Prof. Kavitha Gopalakrishnan’s Article on Write Son, Write

Nature, Nocuous neglect, Corrigenda and Concern: K. V. Dominic’s poems animadverting the apathy and animosity of mankind

Prof. Kavitha Gopalakrishnan

Assistant Professor of English, Viswajyoti College of Engineering and Technology, Vazhakulam, Muvattupuzha, Kerala, India

 

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

 

Write, my son,

Write.

Teach your folk

their position.

All the other beings aware

of their humble position;

only your species

ignorant of his position. (Write Son, Write 33)

 

These lines sum up the mission, vision and intention of K. V. Dominic in writing poetry. Through his two collections, Winged Reason and Write Son, Write, he tries to push the limits of his all-encompassing vision to a more rigorous investigation of nature—both Mother Nature and Human nature. His poetry advocates Art for Life’s sake and emphatically believes that a piece of art must carry a message for mankind. His poems showcase man’s nocuous neglect of the pain and care of other creatures and fellow beings. He points out several corrigenda committed by man which constantly concerns him and thus calls for immediate attention. He focuses on man’s exploitation of biosphere, the apathy shown towards fellow beings and other living creatures and tries to wake them to their heinous indifference. His poems painfully voice his concern of man’s corrigenda.

Dr. Dominic—poet, critic, short story writer, editor of IJML, WEC and NFJ, Secretary of GIEWEC—is one poet who seeks life in nature and exemplifies the interconnectivity between Man and Nature. He sees God in nature and all beings—animate and inanimate. The poems propagate this philosophy of his, which is mandatory to maintain the balance of our ecosystem. His first anthology Winged Reason and his second Write Son, Write give expression to his deep felt ruminations of Mankind. In this paper, I am reading deep into his second anthology. P C K Prem in the Foreword to Write Son, Write states thus:

“Write, My Son, Write” is a long engaging verse that celebrates creation’s inherent blessings in living and non-living. Nature is not only a symbol of destruction but it is harmony and symphony incarnate with profusion of love. The poet wants vividly to acquaint the growing son about nature and the world of man. Nature is caring, divine and loving whereas man is violent, cruel, selfish and egoist. (Write Son, Write 12)

He again goes on to say that the poet extremely pained to see that “mother earth has been destroyed and contaminated.” He says that his “sacred wish” is the grace and nobility of a man with a humanitarian outlook” (Write Son, Write 14).

Write Son, Write has thirty one poems and the opening poem “Write, My Son, Write” is an expression of Dr. Dominic’s views and philosophy. This poem is divided into twenty one parts, and declares the poet’s views of “God, Man and Nature” (Preface 2). In this poem, the poet sees himself as a messenger of God. He thus takes up the task of enlightening the human souls to the marvel of nature:

My son,

I have a mission

in your creation,

God spoke

to my ears.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Write, my son,

write.

Write till

I say stop. (Write Son, Write Part1, 21)

He voices the predicament of lord Almighty on seeing the indifference and apathy of mankind:

Don’t you feel

the symphony

of the universe?

It grieves me that

your species seldom

senses my rhythm.

Plants and animals

dance to my number. (Write Son, Write Part 2, 22)

Even God is pained to see the callousness of humankind. Man kills other beings for sport, for food and for various other wants. The poet writes in Part Seven thus:

You speak to them

in strange tongue,

and they reply

in divine speech;

unintelligible,

you scourge and

even kill them. (Write Son, Write 26)

He then further elaborates in Part Nine as to how man treats Nature and other beings with indifference and callousness.

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 Son, Write 28)

The height of man’s apathy and animosity is highlighted when he pens the desperate question of God:

Who gave you right

to kill my creations?

The way you torture

fowl and cattle,

bereft of food and water,

caged and chained,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The fish you catch

struggle for breath

and cause your glee! (Write Son, Write Part 10, 29)

As a plea to mankind, he painfully asks Man in Part Eleven:

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 Son, Write 30)

He in this comprehensive manifesto to the entire humanity also dwells on the vainglorious mankind basking in his own attempts and glory:

Alas! Vainglorious

he thinks

the master

of all wisdom;

tries to conquer

the universe:

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

He defies me,

assumes my position,

haughtily claims

as the noblest

of my creations!

He gives me shape,

and boasts,

embodiment of God! (Write Son, Write Part 9, 27)

Man’s false pride, his condescending attitude, and his sybarite self is penned to perfection in these lines.

Co-existance is what is ideal for peaceful living and this is what Prof. Dominic advocates through his writings. He intends to startle men to this reality when he writes about the indispensability of and interdependence on beings, to live on earth:

Your existence

depends on others

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .

It’s your pettiness,

viewing things

in different ways,

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

snakes, worms,

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

all for me, good

and beautiful;

but for you,

bad and ugly.

Your selfish mind

tries to ignore

benefits rendered

by these housemates. (Write Son, Write Part 6, 25-26)

The poem “A Cow on the Lane” is a humorous poem which sees things from the point of the cow. The allusion from Ramayana and Mahabharata makes it even more mock-ironic. It shows how even a stubborn cow can teach us lessons:

The train will leave at5 am;

fifteen minutes remain,

Lo, a cow lies on the lane;

the horn sounded stormily.

The cow retorted smiling:

“Don’t disturb my slumber.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“This world is not your grandpa’s

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Can’t you take another route?”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I drove my car backwards;

took another lane and reached

the station just on time. (Write Son, Write 47)

The poem gives a refreshing outlook to the man-animal space sharing and co-operation.

The poet also deals with issues like racism and wonders how man can be so cruel and hardhearted so as to torment, and trouble a being of his kind on the basis of colour. The poet painfully asks:

Why is white attractive

and black disgusting?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When will the Black be

kindred to the White?

When will the Black and the White

dwell in the same house

and dine from the same plate?

When will we behold God’s creation

with impartial eyes

and find His beauty in all forms? (“Crow, the Black Beauty,” Write Son, Write 57-57)

 

The poet is at a loss to understand how human beings can slaughter fellow beings in the name of their beliefs or religion:

India, my motherland.

Land of corruption, terrorism

and religious fundamentalism.

Religious fanatics resort to violence;

kill innocent masses

to appease gods in heaven. (“To My Colleague,” Write Son, Write 84)

 

The strain of thought continues in “Train Blast”:

Train blasted;

A hundred and fifty died;

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Another heinous act

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Misquote Marx

Lenin, Mao.

Utopian ends;

Diabolic means.

Are their hearts

made of stone?          (Write Son, Write 85)

 

Dr. Dominic speaks of the reciprocative relation between Man and Nature. The popular adages “as you sow, so you reap,” “you receive but what you give” are all pushed to oblivion by mankind. The poem “God is Helpless” will remind mankind of what he has blissfully forgotten by highlighting the repercussions:

“God, save us

from this extreme heat;

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

grant us rain,

. . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . .

Suddenly heard

a sound from above:

“I am helpless,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .

you are selfish to the core;

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Petitions come to me

one after another

from plants and animals.

All complain of

your cruelty and torture:

they have no food;

they have no water;

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

They plead me

to call you back;

save their lives,

and thus save the planet. (Write Son, Write 63-65)

The other beings consider ‘we’ human beings as a threat to their lives and existence. They do not feel safe to share the planet with us. This animosity and endangerment was created and inculcated by man and his actions. The seamy effects of this extreme exploitation and ill treatment of Nature has been illustrated in “Nature Weeps (Haiku):

Lilly flower looks

reddish and morose:

had a shower in acid rain

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .

Roses aren’t smiling:

stinky insecticides

keeps flies from embrace.

. . .  . . .  . . . . . . .  . . . . . .

Cow cries continuously

since calf doesn’t suck:

artificial cattle feed.

 

Cuckoos sound changes:

inhaled plastic fumes

spread in the sky. (Write Son, Write 71-73 )

These lines bring to the fore the need of harmonious coexistence. Only when we are empathetic towards other creatures, can we realise the intertwining network between various beings and understand how every action has its own repercussion on beings who are part and parcel of this network. One is reminded of Cicero’s statement—‘Omnia vivunt, Omnia interse conexa.” (Everything is alive, everything is interconnected.)  (qtd. in Business Insider N pag.).

Dr. Dominic envisions a harmonious world and thus calls for a change in outlook and mind set of mankind. Only if human beings understand the cohesion between the sapien, flora and fauna world, can a change be expected. The whole world is bound with mutually reinforcing or mutually destructive interdependencies. Michel de Montaigne, essayist, rightly says: “There is nevertheless a certain respect a general duty to humanity, not only to beasts that have life and sense, but even to trees and plants. We owe justice to men, and graciousness and benignity to other creatures . . . there is a certain commerce and mutual obligation betwixt them and us” (N.pag.).  Dr. Dominic suggests that it would be better in the best interest of mankind and the generations to come that human beings realise their folly, their corrigenda and take corrective measures. In Part Twenty One of “Write, My Son, Write” he emphatically states thus:

nothing more

to tell your species.

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 Son, Write 37)

The poet, thus effectively brings to the fore the need of coexistence and the need of cultivating empathy and benevolence for a harmonious peaceful living on the face of the earth. This latest anthology thus very beautifully attempts to act as a catalyst in changing the mindset of man—his thinking, outlook and attitude towards other beings on earth.

 

Works Cited

 

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

Matai, D. K. “We are all One.” Business Insider. Web.11 Mar. 2011.

Montaigne, Michel de. “Of Cruelty.” The Essays of Montaigne. Trans. Charles Cotton. Web. 11 Mar. 2011.<http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Essays_of Montaigne/Book_II/Chapter_XI>