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Syed Ameeruddin’s Rainbow Rhapsodies: a String of Alluring Love Poems

Review Article

Syed Ameeruddin’s Rainbow Rhapsodies: a String of Alluring Love Poems

K. V. Dominic

Prof. Syed Ameeruddin is a widely published, anthologized, translated and critically acclaimed contemporary Indian poet in English. Born in 1942 in Andhra Pradesh, India, Prof. Ameeruddin completed his Masters Degree in English Language and Literature from Aligarh Muslim University in 1966 and joined as Lecturer in English New College, Chennai in 1968 and retired as Head of the Department of English Post Graduate Research in the year 1995. He visited U.S. twice to attend the World Congress of poets in San Francisco (1981) and in Florida (1985) and was honoured at the Florida Congress as “Laurel Man of Letters.” He also visited Bangkok, Thailand, Istanbul, Turkey and Taipei, Republic of China to attend the World Congress of Poets and to chair sessions and read his poems. He also visited several American and U.K Universities on a lecture cum poetry reading tour. Ameeruddin was awarded the Michael Madhusudan Award for literature in 1988. He was also honoured with the Australia Day Award for literature at Melbourne for excellence in World Poetry by The Poetry Day Australia International, Australia in the year 1990. He was also awarded with the highest academic honour ‘Professor of Distinction’ by the Soka University, Tokyo, Japan. He is one of the contributors to the Routledge Encyclopedia of Commonwealth Literature, London. He has been elected Honorary Professor of Letters by the Temple of Arts Academy International, New York, USA. He is also the chairman to Board of Advisors and American Biographical Institute, North Carolina. He is the Founder and President of the world reputed literary organization, ‘International Poets Academy.’

Prof. Ameeruddin has published seven collections of poems namely What the Himalaya Said and Other Poems, The Dreadful Doom to Come and Other Poems, A Lover and a Wanderer, Petallic Love Times, Visioned Summits, Visions of Deliverance and Rainbow Rhapsodies. He has also published three reputed anthologies on world poetry namely Indian Verse in English, New Voices and Voices International.

I have been fortunate enough to bring out an edited book on him and four other contemporary Indian poets in English entitled Discourses on Five Indian Poets in English: Keki N. Daruwalla, Shiv K. Kumar, Pronab Kumar Majumder, Syed Ameeruddin & Aju Mukhopadhyay published by Authorspress, New Delhi in 2011. The book was reviewed in detail by The Hindu on 31 December 2011 in its Literary Review Supplement. There are nine critical articles on Syed Ameeruddin in that book, the highest number of the five poets.

Dr. D. C. Chambial a renowned poet, critic and editor of Poetcrit estimates Syed Ameeruddin’s greatness as a poet quoting from the reviews of newspapers:

National Herald (Delhi) claims that “His poetry can, at best be described as a conglomeration of the metaphysical, the surreal and existential.” And The Hindu holds that the poems in Visioned Summits are about “the search for ultimate meaning in life” and Deccan Herald (Bangalore) finds that “The divine light of bliss overwhelms him.” The New Indian Express comments that “The poet, in a blissful state of spiritual enlightenment yearns for peace on earth.” (195-96)

Chambial reinstates that “His poetry is out and out philosophical and mystical which endeavours to unravel the mysteries of present and future in the form of manifest, non-manifest and beyond manifest-life”  (202).

Another famous poet Prof. O. P. Mathur is of opinion that “Perhaps it is high time that Indian critics and literary historians also pay due attention to the upcoming crop of modern Indian English poets among whom Ameeruddin should receive proper recognition for the characteristic uniqueness of his poetry” (258).

P C K Prem, a reputed poet, novelist and critic has high esteem for Syed Ameeruddin. He has written:

It is an experience to go through the poems of Syed Ameeruddin. He is a well known name in the Indian English poetry and reading him, one feels unique thrills of an ennobling spirit pervading the entire mortal frame while a kind of distinctive catharsis takes place within without apparent feeling. He has an awe inspiring religious bent of mind that infuses each word with a soul filling nectar. He is surprisingly rooted in Indian culture and traditions, ethical values and eternal belief in the existence of God in each particle of animate and inanimate. Somewhere, a thought continues to tease the inner consciousness with the feeling that perfection is possible only if sincere efforts are made to live a life of meaning and substance. It is a stupendous poetic effort with an immense philosophical and religious import directed at mankind involved in transient acts that make life meaningless. In another context, it is a humble attempt to reconcile the imperfections of the worldly life with the excellence of divinity, divinity that cannot be explained but can only be experienced provided man has faith. One has to reach the mental areas of the poet in order to comprehend the hidden meanings which are shrouded in mystery in the play of words he uses laden with intensity of images and stunning metaphors. The poet’s play with the words is majestically unimaginable, for he unceasingly bowls between earthly realities and ethereal possibilities bordering on truth of life on earth. (260)

Another prominent poet Prof. R. K. Singh evaluates Syed Ameeruddin thus:

Syed Ameeruddin is rich in his expression of Indian spiritual influences, Indian myths, legends and culture, and the socio political condition prevailing in the country. The poet himself believes in expression of Indian rich tradition and culture.

Syed Ameeruddin writes with a social and moral purpose with a view to changing the fabric of the society where man recognizes man, religion recognizes religion, and people abide by the concept of oneness of humankind. His poetry supports values of humanity, peace, love and harmony, just as the poet insists on respect and preservation of nature and ecological balance.  (275)

Rainbow Rhapsodies, the latest collection of Prof. Ameeruddin was published in 2014 by International Poets Academy, Chennnai. The book was edited by Dr. Krishna Srinivas, the reputed English poet long back before he died in 2007 and Prof. Ameeruddin has dedicated the book to him whom he calls lovingly as his Guru. Ameeruddin’s dedication words read thus: “Dedicated to the fond memory of my Guru – Padma Bhusan Dr. Krishna Srinivas, a world renowned poet, who is my fount of inspiration, in persuading me to collect all my love poems, published (so far), in various collections and journals all over the world – in a single volume. That’s the offering – “Rainbow Rhapsodies” a Bouquet of Love” (Ameeruddin 3). There are 47 well composed love poems presented in five phases of this book. The book opens with Dr. Krishna Srinivas’ foreword and ends with the section “world opinions” which carries comments on Syed Ameeruddin by renowned poets and critics of the world. To add beauty to the book each poem is adorned by meaningful pictures.

Krishna Srinivas has rightly assessed Ameeruddin in his foreword: “In the contemporary pernasian world Syed Ameeruddin has emerged as an unique phenomenon – for his poetic mission, spiritual vision, romantic surrealism, vibrating dynamism, symphonic symbolism, complex imagery and above all for his humanitarian and metaphysical concerns” (Ameeruddin 9). Sinivas judges Ameeruddin’s love poems thus: “. . . Ameeruddin’s poems are an ascension towards love. He attains through love the fullness of reality. Love yields him its greatest treasure. The act of love surges and resurges. He traces the erotic multi-facets of love and presents in every evocative way the process and evolution of love from the ideal and platonic to pragmatic and surrealistic trends of our time” (Ameeruddin 15).

Phase I is given the title “Sonorous Sojourns…” which contains 29 poems. The opening poem “Bells of Reminiscences” is an excellent love poem in which the lovers unite at a shore at dusk. The tempting beauty of the sunset is conducive for sensuous passion. After several years the lovers visit the shore again and with agonizing mind think and ruminate those golden moments:

The wheel moves on

He and she glued

to shades on shores—

mirroring each to each—

flames vortexing agonies

and reliving reminiscences

in kaleidoscopic corridors

of each other’s minds.

(Rainbow Rhapsodies 24)

“Love Strings” (26-28) is a wonderful poem full of fantastic imageries to create an atmosphere of love and passion. Some fine examples of imageries are: “fractured night,” “cryptic chills,” “bouquet of stars,” “silvered sands,” “cascaded heart,” “velvety longings,” “eternity captured,” “rosemary nectars,” “sipping symphonies,” “heart’s lyre,” “rippling smiles,” and “spectroscopic eyes.”

“Come, Beloved” (30-32) is a spectacular love poem in which the lover invites his beloved to celebrate the best of their pure love. Look at the beauty of the following lines:

Come beloved!

Let us celebrate

The rainbows we crushed

In the whitish-vibrant blues,

Dreaming a morrow

Of buds and babes,

Of leaves and flowers

Of seeds and fruits,

Incasting and incarnating

Babbling lives

In streets and cities

Stones and tombs –

An eternal craze of a confluence,

A resurrection

Of bones and flesh;

A repetitive rehearsal

A wheeling mirage… (31-32)

“Dream Girl” as the title connotes is a fantasy love poem. The lover visits the shores often in the evenings and there he experiences an apparition in which he is taken by the beloved to the “far off isle in skies” and with her in “a frenzied race” create a universe “of raptured cheers / till dawn”; but tragically “at dawn / leaves me forlorn / and all alone.”  (34). The beauty of the poem is added by the mellifluous rhyming.

“On One Evening” (36) is a beautiful poem having the premises of ‘Kailasanatha’ temple as the background. Sitting together before the statues of Shiva and Parvathi the lovers experience the bliss of Shiva-Parvathi love:

Thus they experienced

The boundless bliss of reverie

In those magnificent moments

Of being… Shiva and Parvathi. (36)

“Shattered Dreams” (38) is a pensive poem of betrayed love. The suitor feels much distressed though he appears with a seeming smile. He is left alone.

Distances grow

Galloping inbetween…

The edifice of our dreams

Collapse and chaos sets in: (39)

He blames her for shattering their dreams. He understood only lately that she was very selfish and her love to him was not at all genuine.

All that you wanted

Was a tempting toy to play …

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

Your threw me out of your life

Like the crushed rosy petals

From the tainted nuptial bed …

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

Unaware of your sweet scorpion stings,

In my inner spiritual kaleidoscope,

I always visualized you

As my parvathi, my radha, my sakuntala …

Only now, I realized,

All that was with you – is a mirage,

You are a bewitching,

Urvasi, rambha, menaka,

Entered into my life to ruin

My mental poise and spiritual integrity … (39-40)

References and allusions to the characters of the Hindu epics ennoble the poem and take the readers’ minds to multi layers of superb images and stories.

“Simmering Loneness” (42-46) is another throbbing love poem where the atmosphere is gloom and solitude. It also is a sad experience of betrayed love. The suitor’s pensive mood is reflected on the shores: “Then, I watched / The trembling moon / Mocking at my loneness.” (42) He then recollected the good old days with her on the shore and then how she departed him:

“Dear, forget, treat all that as sham,

a ritual to be forever,

a pretence, a self-deception,

away from reality”-and left… (45)

The disturbed sea becomes calm and “seems to snore” and he reconciles with the reality:

In that simmering silence

I realised…

Forever means a hazy horizon

A stupid sentimentality

Which leads nowhere

Except into the sadeyed silence

Which ends as cataclysmic despair… (45-46)

“You Are a Beautiful Poem” (82) is a sensuous love poem in which the suitor laying his head on the lap of his sweetheart sees her as beautiful poem. In her eyes he watches “fireflies light up / The future manuscripts of my poems.” (82) The poet ends the poem with the superb lines:

Lets love each other

To the depths and breadths and heights

Our souls can reach

To realize the ideal of

Sat – Chit – Ananda. (82)

In the section Phase II entitled “Purple Meanderings…” there are eight poems. “Love Times” (94-96) is highly sensuous poem full of imageries. The locale, as common to all the poems in the book, is the same shore and the time is night. As the azure sky unites with the sea, the suitor recollects how he united with his sweetheart. Look at the beauty of the sensuous lines:

A statue of Ajanta…Thus

I touched, smelt

all the secret wine waves

of your body

And swayed with them

in every movement

And listened to the orchestra

of sensual melody. (94-95)

“Sleeping Memories” (98-100) is another fine poem in which the suitor recollects his tender love times. His solitude is reflected in the moon:

Now I am alone and

found the moon a stone

Alone walking amidst

the shadow of ruins

Walking towards

a strange and savage destiny. (98)

Again we find excellent imagery in the following lines:

It is here on this golden sands we shared

the ragas of the wind

It is here the gypsy dark closes gently over

memories we recall –

It is here we shared our

love in lyric splendour.

This gypsy satchel carries all my

sepulchre symphonies –

This fatigued evening carries all my

distorted rainbow rage. (99)

The beauty of imagery in the phrases ‘golden sands,’ ‘ragas of the wind,’ ‘gypsy dark,’ ‘sepulchre symphonies,’ ‘fatigues evening’ and ‘distorted rainbow rage’ is remarkable.

“Love Song” is an enticing poem in which the suitor mentally invites his sweetheart to him who is resting on the shore. It is a long poem of eight stanzas each opening with the refrain “My love, come and wait for me.” There are so many beautiful images which create perfect love atmosphere and emotion. Look at the beauty of the lines:

Looking into your sparkle swirling eyes

With a touch of ebony

And with a shower of silver

Hovering around your prismatic body

I shall open the storm of the sea,

And wrapped in the tides of the moon

I shall bring you a poem

In a pulsating pearl

Which symphonies the saga

Of our many splendoured love. (102)

How many fantastic images!  The imagery in “a poem / In a pulsating pearl / Which symphonies the saga / Of our many splendoured love.” is really superb. The following lines of the same poem reminds Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”:

The sun that rises is bound to set,

Make haste, live life. Chide and challenge,

Like the restive tides dancing in trance

Uncared of the onslaught of simmering storm.

Let us seize the fleeting moments

Of the present in our firy and tipsy fists,

Uncared of this and that, now and then,

Here and after,

To make our vanishing moments purple and alive. (104-105)

Unlike Frost’s message to go ahead and think of the future rather than stay captivated on the transient beauty of the present, poet Ameeruddin antithetically presents lovers’ urge to spend the present moment maximum enjoying, least bothered about the future.

“My Beloved” is a highly sensuous and emotional poem in which the suitor’s mind is longing, weeping and searching for his sweetheart who has left him. He ruminates every occasion of their love times and how amorously they sat together showering love on each other physically, mentally and orally. The poem ends beautifully with the stanza:

Where are you, my beloved?

My sweetheart! My esteemed spirit!

Wherever you may be, I proclaim

Our true love to this Natures bounty-

Stormy seas, green pastures, starstudded skies,

Moonblushed shores, golden glades and

Whispering foliages,

All witnessed our petallic lovetimes

On their tender bosom, and nurtured

Our souls to the tunes of pure passion and

Rainbow melodies. (118)

“I am Alive Again” is a highly sensuous poem in which the lady-love sweetly remembers the bodily effect on her when the suitor amorously touched, kissed, caressed and embraced. His passionate acts made her alive again. Have a glimpse at the following lines:

Love strings are stirred in my inner being

The clear sky hangs blue

My hear is full and soul surged

And I am tender once again –

There is change to redeem myself

From the futile past and lousy present

Through passages to another world

Into a new destination. A golden glade:

I am alive again – (122)

Phase III of the book entitled “Pulsating Purplexes…” contains three long poems with the title “A Lover and a Wanderer” Part I, Part II and Part III. In Part I the suitor reflects how his sweetheart came into his life; how they met for the first time; how she conquered his heart and enjoyed sex in the night. At the dawn he bade her good bye:

Goodbye! Goodbye!

Carefree into the winding ways

Unbounded, I must walk

A head start for tomorrow

Leaving the reminiscence of past

Where I am, and tread

Forward in the exhilarating future,

A wild winding path. Journey is long,

I must wander, I must wander;

There is storm in my lone soul

And the whirly waves are calling. (142)

Part II speaks about their meeting again and involving in sex. He reflects that when night falls wherever he may be, her sweet whisper haunts him. He longs to meet her again and again as a stranger and thus experience the passion of love more strongly:

Therefore dear,

Let us meet as strangers,

And pretend, for a moment

You are mind and I ma yours,

In this wild torrent night

To resurrect and rejuvenate our love

With the brutal anonymity

Of grief and acquaintance,

Let us remake and rebuild

The moment of purple paradise

And to relive a moment alive.

Dear as you know,

My target is the fugitive moon,

A carefree wanderer,

The dark and deep woods are beckoning.

A wild winding path, I have to cross

To experience and explore

The labyrinthine webs of humanity. (146-147)

Phase IV of the book is given the title “Symphonic Sensibilities…” Three poems are there in this section with the title “Petallic Love Times” Part I, Part II and Part III. The celebration of love is again the theme of these poems. The phase ends with the stanza:

Love at heart

Is memory and celebration.

To be in love is holding the sun.

Love fortified or love fractured

Is a many splendoured dream. ((192)

The final phase of the book is Phase V Resplendent Retrospectives… There are three poems in this section. The last poem “Drumbeats of ‘Dampatya’” is a nuptial poem:

Of nuptial bond – with

a wiggling march

I saw a sonorous

Parvathi in you.

And you perceived –

in me a vivacious Shiva.

We vis-à-vis and hand in hand

Crossed the travails and thrills of life

With melodies of devotion

And enchanting

drumbeats of ‘Dampatya’. (206)

Before summing up this paper let me share my experience of reading of this book as a happy voyage through the ocean of love. A reader of the book will surely feel amorous passion and even sensuous feelings. He/she will be amazed by the poet’s use of imagery and well chosen phrases. Let me reinstate that Rainbow Rhapsodies will have a unique place among love poetry composed in English language, and the book is another spectacular feather to the poetic career of Prof. Syed Ameeruddin. It is worth ending the paper with the comment of Prof. K. R. Srinivas Iyengar, the legend of Indian English Criticism: “Dr. Ameeruddin is a repository of scuttle truths and a museum of irrefutable facts – refuted not by empirical discoveries, but by mysterious decisions of experience differently from time to time. It worked in the totems and taboo of ancients, the pyramids of Egypt, the cosmology of Dante, and theory of expanding universe” (Ameeruddin 211).

Works Cited

Ameeruddin, Syed. Rainbow Rhapsodies. Chennai: International Poets Academy, 2014. Print.

Chambial, D. C. “Quest for Self: The Poetry of Syed Ameeruddin.” Dominic 195-202.

Dominic, K. V., ed. Discourses on Five Indian Poets in English: Keki N. Daruwalla, Shiv K. Kumar, Pronab Kumar Majumder, Syed Ameeruddin and Aju Mukhopadhyay. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2011. Print.

Mathur, O. P. “Syed Ameeruddin’s Poetry: Visions of a Pilgrimage to the Summits of Deliverance.” Dominic 248-259.

Prem, P. C. K. “An Elevating Spiritual Journey of Grace and Nobility through Syed Ameeruddin’s Visioned Summits and Visions of Deliverance.” Dominic 260-273.

Singh, R. K., Rajeev Ranjan and M. Mojibur Rahman. “Poetic Style in Syed Ameeruddin’s Poetry.” Dominic 274-282.