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Dr. S. Kumaran’s Article on Write Son, Write

Eco-consciousness in K. V. Dominic’s Write Son, Write

Dr. S. Kumaran

Assistant Professor of English,

University College of Engineering, Tindivanam,

Melpakkam- 604 001, Tamilnadu.

(Appeared in Critical Evaluation of Contemporary Indian Poetry in English,   edited by K. V. Dominic and published by Access, New Delhi, 2012)

 

As the present century is threatened by the impending disasters of ecological imbalance, this paper attempts to bring out K. V. Dominic’s eco-consciousness in his collection of poems, Write Son, Write. The poet considers the world as a sanctuary and brings out the interconnection between human beings and other beings. He feels that the realisation of divinity will enable humans to realise the interrelatedness of things. Further, he identifies the process of writing as an act of divine inspiration and points out the connection thus:

I am the ball

of your pen;

I am the ink

that flows

on the paper.

Write, my son, write.

Write till

I say stop (“Write, My Son, Write” 21)

 

The poet feels that he can contribute to the society through writing and can also address the problems of the world.  The divine inspiration makes the poet apprehend how the Supreme Being is very much concerned about man’s negligence of basic life support systems and it makes him understand the question posed by the Supreme Being thus:

Don’t you feel

the symphony

of the universe? (“Write, My Son, Write” 22)

 

The symphony is the chain that links all the beings and it maintains harmony too. The loss of harmony will result in the loss of balance and order. Even the Supreme Being is worried about man’s failure to move along with the rhythm of the universe, which the nature observes:

It grieves me that

your species seldom

senses my rhythm.

Plants and animals

dance to my number. (“Write, My Son, Write” 22)

 

The poet points out how all the constituent parts of nature explicate the symphony of the universe. He explicates that there is harmony and rhythm in every ‘molecule,’ ‘every atom’ and lists out the movements of non-human beings such as elephants, deer, tiger, rabbit, leopard, swine, squirrel, kangaroo, bear, horse, bull, dog, dove, cormorant, kingfisher, swift, crow, kite, eagle, mynah, bees, mosquito, snake, millipede, centipede, worms and insects to bring out:

Rhythm is there

everywhere

and creates

the perpetual

harmony  (“Write, My Son, Write” 23)

 

The rhythm and harmony establish the presence of divine and they help the beings to comprehend the relationship between humans and the divine. Humans are also a part of the rhythm and it reverberates in their actions thus:

Rhythm is there

in your breath;

your heartbeats;

your eyewinks;

your walk and run;

your chew and munch;

digestion in

your stomach;

your laughter

and your cry;

the words you speak;

and even your flatus (“Write, My Son, Write” 23)

 

The poet highlights how humans alone disregard the symphony of the universe. The symphony of the universe ensures the welfare of both human and non-human beings. Non-human beings move according to the symphony and attempts to maintain balance and harmony whereas humans behave according to their whims and fancies and play discordant note:

 

Birds and animals play

their assonant keys.

Man alone strikes

discordant notes (“Write, My Son, Write” 24)

 

As the eco-catastrophe is the result of man’s failure to understand his connection to non-human beings, the poet expounds how the lives of humans are interconnected with the lives of non-human beings. He also indicates that humans are dependent on non-human beings for their survival:

Living beings and

lifeless objects

all interrelated.

Your existence

depends on others; (“Write, My Son, Write” 25)

 

According to Skolimowski, “We rarely realize that the contaminated physical environment leaves behind its shadow which is contaminated mental and spiritual environments. A true work of ecology is healing all the three environments simultaneously: physical, mental and spiritual” (13). Humans neglect nature because of their contaminated mind that breeds avarice, selfishness, arrogance, irrationality and other vices:

Your selfish mind

tries to  ignore

benefits rendered

by these housemates (“Write, My Son, Write” 26)

 

It should be remembered that non-human beins are no different from humans and there is no competition between them and humans. In fact, the non-human others cannot live without humans as they are interrelated to humans and they need the presence of humans to ensure the harmony of the universe thus:

 

Your species

can’t live alone.

Cattle, sheep,

goats, donkeys,

dogs, cats,

swine, fowl,

I created

for your company;

neither can they

exist without you (“Write, My Son, Write” 26)

 

According to Manes, “in addition to human language, there is also the language of birds, the wind, earthworms, wolves, and waterfalls–a world of autonomous speakers whose intents (especially for hunter-gatherer peoples) one ignores at one’s peril” (15). Owing to their limited knowledge of non-human beings, humans fail to understand them and involve in actions that are detrimental to the welfare of non-human beings:

 

You speak to them

in strange tongue,

and they reply

in divine speech;

unintelligible,

you scourge and

even kill them (“Write, My Son, Write” 26)

 

 

Humans ought to realise that they are the new comers to the planet earth and there has been an existence of other creatures since time immemorial. The poet discloses how the non-human beings are predecessors to humans and shows how humans cannot boast of their supremacy over them:

 

Your species

is the latest

of my creations;

evolved after

millions of years

of progressive march (“Write, My Son, Write” 27)

 

Though, the latest species of the earth, man has been blessed with ‘seed’ of knowledge as the Supreme Being ‘risked a test in man’s brain.’ Against the interest of the creator, humans start thinking themselves as the owners of the earth and disrupt the harmony in the universe:

 

Alas! Vainglorious

he thinks

the master

of all wisdom;

tries to conquer

the universe: (“Write, My Son, Write” 27)

 

Their assumption not only distances them from the creator but also it threatens the very existence of other creatures that have been occupying the planet long before the arrival of humans. The irony is that man is incapable of knowing his own limitations and assumes himself the lord of the universe:

 

Poor creature

knows not

his handicap;

limitations of

his reason (“Write, My Son, Write” 28)

 

Moreover, humans’ reliance on their reason disrupts the chain that links all creatures and it makes them involve in actions that are irrational and against the principles of ecology. Further, the poet highlights the mockery of human actions by saying how they have forgotten to realise the very purpose of being created:

 

I breathed in him

celestial values:

happiness, beauty,

peace, love, mercy;

but he fosters

hate and violence;

kills his kith and kin;

shows no mercy

to animals and plants (“Write, My Son, Write” 28)

 

The mockery continues even in the rituals. As rituals are formed by humans themselves, they are filled with acts that are against the welfare and growth of non-humans. The poet sarcastically comments that:

 

Christmas is your

greatest festival;

greeting each other

peace and happiness;

blackest day for

cattle, fowl and fish;

billions butchered

for your pleasure;

you dine and dance,

sing hymns of peace!

preach gospel of love! (“Write, My Son, Write” 29)

 

Further, the poet says that all the happy celebrations of humans such as birthday, marriage, ordination, and jubilee turn out to be ‘dooms day’ for animals. By killing the animals and by signaling the ‘death knell’ humans ‘try dissonance at the harmony.’ Anguished by the treatment of animals and in his divine inspiration, the poet questions:

 

Who gave you right

to kill my creations?

The way you torture

fowl and cattle,

bereft of food and water,

caged and chained,

gasp in sulight;

you cut their throat

live to their eyes (“Write, My Son, Write” 29)

 

 

Being aware of the transforming power of non-human beings, the poet encourages humans to learn from them. He feels that the non-human beins have plenty of things to teach humans and humans ought to acknowledge the worth of non-human beings:

 

Why don’t you

learn from Nature?

Animals and birds

present you models.

Models of pure love,

happiness, hard work,

suffering, kindness,

patience, sharing,

fellowship, gratitude  (“Write, My Son, Write” 30)

 

It is people who distort the lessons from nature. They misinterpret the voice of nature and distance it from the reach of humans. In fact it is their compartmentalised mind that makes them to associate the voice of nature with the anger of the omniscient lord:

 

your people think

thunder is my

sword of punishment.

Tell them, son,

their celestial Father

never hates;

will never punish;

only showers love

and looks after

His creation (“Write, My Son, Write” 31)

 

For the poet, nature is an abode of the divine being. In this regard, Buell feels that “The non-human environment is present not merely as a framing device but as a presence that begins to suggest that human history is implicated in natural history” and “The human interest is not understood to be the only legitimate interest” (7-8). The poet too believes that every object of nature reflects the play of the divine:

 

The sound of the air

produced in breeze,

gale, tempest,

all my diverse notes.

The sound of water

in brooks, rivers

seas, oceans,

also my own scales (“Write, My Son, Write” 32)

 

In addition to the things mentioned above, the poet feels that there are several things which are beyond human understanding. Moreover, the Supreme Being loves non-human beings on par with humans and He speaks to humans through nature:

 

The snake you fear;

the pests, insects,

rodents you hate;

virus, worms

and all you dread

are no less

dear to me

than you.

I speak to you

through cuckoo;

I lull you

through owl (“Write, My Son, Write” 32)

 

The poet is informed by the divine to educate humans to adopt humility to lead a harmonious life. The non-human beings are well aware of the need of harmony whereas humans are misled by miscreants in the society:

 

All other beings aware

of their humble position;

only your species

ignorant of his position.

religious mafia,

intellectual mafia,

mislead

your innocent

humble folk (“Write, My Son, Write” 33)

 

Humans should understand service to non-human beings is a service to the Supreme Being. Moreover, such a service is easy and reliable as it makes humans adopt the divine principles that extol the welfare of others. The poet reveals the meaning of service and the worth of non-human beings thus:

service to animals

and plants and trees

are services to me.

Look at birds;

look at animals;

look at fishes;

look at plants;

they seek their food;

strike the eternal

note of happiness

and never digress

from the symphony (“Write, My Son, Write” 34-35)

 

The symphony is disturbed by humans because of their irrational actions aggravated by various kinds of mafias. Though human and non-human beings have been created equally, the mafias made the gullible people to believe they are superior to other creatures:

The religious mafia

spreads its fake ism:

other beings and plants,

all for man’s pleasures;

he is the king

of animals and plants (“Write, My Son, Write” 35)

 

The poet discloses that the world has enough food for humans and non-humans and humans need not kill non-human beings for their food. Moreover, they are not at liberty to kill animals and are not given the right to kill by anyone:

The universe bears

sufficient food

for human and

non human beings.

All other beings

seek their food.

I haven’t given

man licence

to kill other beings

as carnivores do (“Write, My Son, Write” 35-36)

 

Humans should realise that every creature has its own right to lead an independent life on this earth and its existence is not for the exigency of others. If humans understand the dignity and value of non-human beings and if they revive their relationship with them, they can safeguard their lives along with the lives of non-human beings:

If they heed

they will be saved;

other beings

will be saved;

plants will be saved

and the universe

as such will be saved (“Write, My Son, Write” 37)

 

The poet highlights the falsity of religious practices in “Massacre of Cats.” He exposes how his ‘nextdoor neighbours,’ ‘pious to the core’ have poisoned his cats and how they have no repentance for the cruel act. After having eaten the poisoned fish fry all the four cats died one after the other, and when the poet digs a grave with ‘shaking hands’

The neighbours

celebrated the offer

peeping through

the window curtain (45).

 

William Rueckert in his, “Literature and Ecology” proclaims the importance of non-human others thus: “Man does not have the right to do anything he wants with Nature. The idea that Nature should also be protected by human laws, that trees (dolphins and whales, hawks and whooping cranes) should have lawyers to articulate and defend their rights is one of the most marvelous and characteristic parts of the ecological vision” (108). The poet could not comprehend the rationality of his neighbours’ action and sarcastically comments that:

Is this planet

man’s sole property?

My materialist neighbours

go to church every day;

read the Bible every day;

but never read the part

to love other beings

as fellow beings (“Massacre of Cats” 46)

The poet identifies repentance as the means of redemption. He believes that as atonement is the only way to regain the lost divinity, humans should take steps to atone for their harmful acts. Further, he feels that his neighbours, who have killed his pet cats, should repent for their cruel act and beg forgiveness from the innocent ones:

Let my neighbours expiate,

dig out skeletons

of my cats;

tie them

to their necks

as Coleridge’s

ancient mariner

did a century back

since he killed

the ominous albatross (“Massacre of Cats” 46)

 

 

The poet elucidates the presence of the divine being in all creatures through his kitten named Poppy. He does not differentiate non-humans from him and feels that the realisation of the oneness is a means of realising the divine:

My affection to Poppy

no less than to my wife,

daughter and son.

What difference is there

between men and animals?

For He resides in all.

Why should I seek Him

in churches and prayer halls? (“Attachment” 51)

 

 

The poet points out how people themselves are responsible for the problems they face due to ecological imbalance. When the people in the poem “God is Helpless,” beg the lord to save them from drought, God replies that He is helpless as He has given the earth to humans as He has given it to the non-humans and further, He questions that who asked humans to contaminate the resources of the earth. He also reveals that:

You have dug your grave,

And what am I to do?

Petitions come to me

one after another

from plants and animals (64).

 

Further, God says that He is confused about His next move as the non-human beings have complained to Him how humans have made the lives of non-human beings miserable and in addition, they have requested God to obliterate humans from the earth.

 

In “Nature Weeps,” the poet explicates how trees, flowers, animals, birds are unhappy about their treatment by humans and points out the impact of human irrational actions on the regeneration and recreation of non-human others. The poet brings out the havoc of globalization and global warming in “Water, Water, Everywhere . . .”

Water, the source of life;

Omnipresent and abundant

like its parent oxygen.

Free and ‘insignificant’

for millions;

going to be more precious

than gold and diamond (91).

 

Thus, by bringing out the inherent worth and intrinsic value of nature, the impact of humans on nature, the interdependence of all lives, humans dependence on nature, the poet makes humans realise the importance of cherishing ecological principles.

 

 

Works Cited

 

Buell, L. The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995. Print.

Dominic, K. V. Write Son, Write (A Collection of Poems). New Delhi: Gnosis, 2011. Print.

Manes, C. “Nature and Silence.” The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Eds. Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996. 15-29. Print.

Rueckert, W. “Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism.” The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Eds. Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996. 105-123. Print.

Skolimowski, H. Dharma, Ecology and Wisdom in the Third Millennium. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, 1999. Print.