Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Nissim Ezekiel- "Poem of the Separation"

I consider "Poem of the Separation"  as a unique poem  by Nissim Ezekien. The poetic  Muse seems to have snatched the pen from his hand for the moment and written the poem for him. Unfortunately, Nissim Ezekiel has a tendency to be too flippant or too philosophical  , and this has marred his poetry . A poet may be a profound philosopher , but his poetry should convey  philosophical truths in an unobtrusive way . Generally speaking, readers do not enjoy poetry that has a design upon them . Ezekiel's preoccupation with philosophy has taken a toll of his popularity The tone of flippancy that shows through even his most serious poetry  is another disconcerting feature of his poetry. ''Poem of the Separation"is a  refreshing contrast to the rest of his poetryHere the higher truths of life are conveyed through the natural setting of romantic loveThe poet takes the reader to a bizarre  world of delicate beauty  The higher truths are conveyed  wrapped in the mystic halo of a spiritual  experience   

The poet opens the poem with the genesis of his love . Love has its own strange logic ! It is no respecteor of place and time . The poet met and fell in love when Kashmir was burning .Ezekiel captures the moment of love in these haunting lines

When the bombs burst in Kashmir 
my life had burst 
and merged in yours 

Love begets strange feeling in the hearts of lovers . People indulge in odd behaviour under the influence of love . 

Love is blind ans lovers do not see 
The pretty follies that themselves commit  (Shakespeare)

Ezekiel expresses the same idea in his own inimitable way  in these lines 

the season, time.and place
rejected their usual names 

As their love progresses, the beloved has the inevitable feeling of growing up . The sentiment of love may make men and women whirlwind and lightning . That being impossible, they had to make do with buses to take them to cafes , beaches and parks where they made love ( music) . Like the human wife in Matthew Arnold's The Forsaken Merman , the poet's beloved becomes fed up with  material life .  She cannot live on echoes - mere illusions in this illusory world . The call of the spirit grows more and more insistent and irresistible . 

The pain of separation has been described by many poets . But none of them has brought forth the poignancy  of separation as Ezekiel has done in these lines 

Ten thousand miles away 
you became a shower of letters
a photohraph, a newspaper cutting
a smell at night 

The great city of Bombay is the  city of his birth and rebirth . In this city she was a new way for him to laugh at the truth . The poet desires her physical presence badly, very badly indeed ! .She can impart to him happiness which she seems to wear so lightly '. - supported by her shoulder , breasts and thighs , symbols of woman's feminine charms . But she is so absorbed in spiritual  contemplation that she cannot think of returning to material life . All that she wants now is merger with the Lord's feet . 

This poem has a quaint atmosphere  and a delicate beauty . It has a haunting beauty . It will linger in the reader's heart like'a  smell at night'

Thank you for visiting

Prof. V.P. Rajappan!