Leaping the Lilac Sun
A Review by Bishnupada Ray
The book opens with the poetry of Pritish Nandy from his book Riding the Midnight River
near her breast
where the lilacs are
of strange blind men
If art is defined as a subjective ordering of the objective reality or as a meeting place of the subjective and the objective, then Amitabh Mitra’s Leaping the Lilac Sun is a perfect specimen of it, capturing the myriad moods of nature, landscape and nostalgia in the form of painting and poetry. The still frames of visual imagination go well along with the perfectly crafted companion poems, fused together with the poet’s vision and love of beauty. The lilac sun is a visionary symbol of transmuting the particular into the universal, the chaos into the cosmos, and the flux of life into the static emotions; the outer and the inner, nature and self, coalesce and form a correspondence under the lilac sun.
Leaping the Lilac Sun is a bright book of life, exuberant and romantic, and bears testimony to the poet’s deep involvement with life. The wholeness and hopefulness of life is unmistakable in the first poem.
dreams resplendent with green
i walk up the trees reaching the sky
i didn’t find any gashes or bleeding wounds
on its back
nobody has yet stabbed it
birds swim through an easy breast stroke
and flowers bloom as usual after the day closes its shutters
a voice of the baul plays on the strings
of a handloom river
night comes reverently
unleashing its warmth
i sleep unlikely
in the crypt and cradle of your stars.
The life is not yet ‘stabbed’ or disjointed, narrow or fragmented, but full of harmony, rhythm and cosmic sensibility. The approach of night and darkness or the night itself is tensional, but the leaping sun brings about love and dream.
looking through a sand swept veil
a river lost to faraway clouds, faraway lands
i discovered your arching eyebrows
questioning the scarcity of valid darkness
when did the shadows arrive
when did the marble floors conspire
when did the dust settle on ancestral moments
when did you refuse to align the advent of dawn
i have no answers
i have your lips that speak of language
cajoled of hurts, gulls reined in embrace
i have the lilac sun that rose only once
a sky leaping the closeness of a dream.
The poems are characteristically love poems, or love in motion through places, in a series of tableaux. His travel down the memory lane, under the heat of summer, turns from real to surreal and even magical; as the poet reminisces the precious moments lived with his beloved. The sun, a universal symbol of life and warmth, inspires the flowering of the poet’s imagination with warmth of feeling for people and places that have grown into the texture of his very being. The tropical sun of his Calcutta days, as red as the “colour of your big bindi”, becomes a symbol of love and fulfilment, reminding us of the summer in Calcutta as experienced by Kamala Das in her extraordinary poem ‘Summer in Calcutta’. Summer in Amitabh Mitra’s poems is the unifying principle connecting not only places like Noorganj, Gwalior, Delhi, Calcutta, Johannesburg or Soweto as one place and one experience, but also connects the hearts in a bond of love and life. Mitra’s book thus offers a sense of underlying unity amidst all the diversity of feeling, form and experience of life.
Poets Printery Publishing South Africa
Bishnupada Ray teaches English literature at the North Bengal University in Darjeeling, India. A widely published poet, he is a Pushcart nominee of 2009.