Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bijay Kant Dubey : The Ferry Man

When I read Bijay Kant Dubey's maiden poetic venture, I was reminded of Coleridge's famous remark , " No one was ever yet a great poet without being at the same time a profound philosopher" . Dubey's thought-provoking Preface to The Ferry Man is what Preface was to Lyrical Ballads The Preface to the Ferry Man sets forth in clear terms Dubey's poetic credo While going through all the 97 lyrics in this maiden poetic venture of a young poet , I could experience the truth of what Dubey says in the Preface "The stream of philosophy murmurs by from the river of poetry " .

Bijay Kant Dubey does not apologize for the use of English to express his distinctly Indian sensibility. He calls his poetry a pretty 'Anglo-Indian belle" whose father is an Indian philosopher and the mother an English lady . Using a different metaphor he calls Indian poetry in English "an English flower grown up in the Indian Land" . For all that modern linguisticians might say, Indian poetry in English continues to be an enigma , and the contradiction is succinctly put by Dubey in the Preface ,"Oh, the nice medley, the language is foreign but the literature is native" .Thus Indian poetry in English gives the lie to the linguistic theory that a language is rooted in a particular culture !

'"The Ferry Man" is imbued with Indian philosophy . It is soaked in the wisdom enshrined in Indian philosophical works like the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Gita and the Puranas . The metaphor of the ferryman powerfully communicates the poet's concept of the Divine which he identifies with Lord Shiva as the ferryman who can ferry the human souls across the ocean of existence . How powerless is the human soul without the strong hands of the ferryman to guide it ! The poet's trust in the ferryman is absolute and unshakable . The poet says in Lyric No 10

Ferry across, ferry across kindly
The fugacious vessel of my life .
Oh, Thou Ferryman , my Lord Siva

The poet's firm faith in the loving kindness of Lord Siva makes all fears vanish from his heart when the vessel is crossin the 'terrible sea " of existence .

The conception of the human soul waiting impatiently for union with the Divine , her lover, is a recurrent image in Tagore's Gitanjali . This is in accordance with the conventions of Vaishnava devotional poetry . - the delightful blending of romance and devotion . Dubey, too, makes good use of this Vaishnava convention. Take , for examplem Lyric No 9

The beloved is restless
In bearing the pangs of separation
Yea, innumerable pains and pleasures vex her
The heart throbs fast

And aches deeply
When wilt Thou meet me ., O Lover?

And Lyric 14

The night is dark
And I am all alone
In my house
The soul is restless
O, she the soul is love-lorn
And lying in her sick-bed
Wilt Thou come and see me my Lord ?

Man as a traveller on the dusty road of existence is a recurrent image in Dubey's poetry .

I am way- worn
The snares and troubles
Of this dusty world
Have made me much fatigued

So, I want to lie in a deep slumber of bliss .Lyric No 15

In Lyric No 17 the poet calls himself a traveller who has lost his way

I am a traveller
The real path is unknown , unseen
It is Thou , my Guide, who showest me
The invisible path of illumination

The Ferryman is is inspired by Tagore's Gitanjali. But Bijay Kant Dubey's thoughts and imagery are daringly original , fresh and unconventional . He showed great promise as a new star on the horizon of Indo-Anglian poetry with his maiden venture , The Ferryman But his later poetry shows an obsession with death and mortality . That may be the reason why editors do not show enthusiasm to include him in their anthologies!