29/08/19 at 10:32 AM
He is an eternal torch bearer of poetry and poetics
18/07/19 at 02:34 AM
THE ARC OF BLOOD : THE MAKING OF A POET
I vaguely remember that it was in 1978 and then I was studying B.A. in S.V.Arts College which, though situated as a boundary to S V University, appears as a part of it due to its similarity in the name. Then the Department of Telugu under the stewardship of Prof G N Reddy used to conduct literary seminars and functions regularly and I enthusiastically attended many of them. The lectures of Gunturu Seshendra Sarma are undoubtedly the best among them.
By that time Seshen emerged on the horizon of the poetry like a sun of avant- garde and his Kavisena was in a rage and his Kavisena Manifesto was a sensation and Prof G N Reddy who was always first in feeling the pulse of the times invited Seshen to the University as a Visiting Professor. I was there among the audience on the day of the inaugural lecture also. His arrival into the auditorium, a handsome young man in his forties, in impeccable silk attire - a magnificent spectacle. The moment he stood before the podium and began his lecture in his attractive husky tone the entire auditorium got enthralled. He seemed to have gone into a trance and all the classics and masters of literature were at his finger tips. Those lectures went on for week and still I vividly remember the effect of them and do cherish those moments though I have forgotten many of the issues he discussed then. When I took up reading his Raktha Rekha(The Arc of Blood) recently I realized that it contains most of them.
Reading Raktha Rekha is also as spellbinding as that of his lectures. He pointed out that it is a poet’s note book which contained a selected part of his diary written between January 1952 and 1974. Part of it was like a discourse given to the students and some parts are written in an introspective mood. But all of them are endearing to the readers as the writer was successful in achieving a cordial and congenial relationship with the reader with his sincerity and authenticity.
In Raktha Rekha Seshen had dealt with many topics related to literature. They are like dispersed meditations. In the beginning he says that the man has to undergo more tragedies than happiness. Those few happy things he enjoys are like the stars of the night that disappear by the day. The person got into the snares of happiness is like a fish devoured by fate. What remains are not happy things but they teach you the truth of life.
Seshen is a poet who affirms that he can live for centuries enjoying the color of a single flower. He believes that literature is a means to attain a spiritual boon called good world. He points out that procuring a single good person is not an easy thing though millions of good books can be secured. He praises Malcolm De Chazal ,a French poet, who says, “A flower is pure poetry. If a man can see a flower smile to him, he is captured in the essence of poetry. But if he paints the flower smiling to him, he is in the essence of art. He is coexistent to god.” A poet of a higher order like D H Lawrence can only say, “The perfect rose is a running flame, emerging and flowing off and never in any sense at rest, static, finished.”
Seshen observes that the element of subjectivity which is the living core of modern poetry is not necessarily the gross autobiographical content of the poet’s mind. It is the essence of his poetic perception, not of the objects but through the objects; or rather it is the emphasis on the vision of the poet in the making of a poem. He firmly asserts that a poet needs to have a disciplined training. He proves the same by quoting T S Eliot who charged D H Lawrence that he suffered from a lack, not so much of information as of critical faculties which education should give. He proves that Poetics first appeared in India by choosing an illustration from Mahabharatha in which Narada is praised for adorning the word letter-wise and meaning-wise. He thus enumerates the six outstanding schools of the dialects of poetry: 1.The Rasa theory of Bharatha 2.The Alamkara theory of Bhamaha 3. The Riti theory of Vamana 4. The Dhwani theory of Anandhavardhana 5.The Vakrokthi theory of Kuntaka and 6. The Auchithya theory of Kshemendra. To this Seshen adds one thing, the Chamathkara theory of Jagannatha.
Seshen reiterates the concept of Jagannatha that the word which unfolds beautiful meaning is poetry. As the medium of literature is verbal, literature is made of words. The ancient Indian aesthetes discussed the four forms of speech(Vaak), para, pasyanthi, madhyamaa, and vaikhari. They also observed the three forms of sound(Sabdha), abhida, lakshana and vyanjana.
Upholding Kuntaka’s theory of Vrakthokthi, Seshen declares that the two of the seven types of Vrakthokthi,varna and pada are not reasonable as the roundabout of saying are impossible in them.
Referring to the great Symbolist poets of French literature whom he considers masters of modern poetry, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine and Mallarme, Seshen observes that symbolism is the most ancient cult in India which can be traced back to the Vedas and Tanthras. He believes that the French poets were influenced by the intellectual postures of Upanishadic symbolism. He proclaims that Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the culmination of the second Renaissance of Europe is also an adoption of Upanishadic thought ‘aham bramhasmi’. He believes that the medium of writing in dialogues which Nietzsche borrowed from Plato and Socrates reflects the European adaption of Indian Upanishat.
These are only few among the various reflections of Seshen and his opinions on the other aspects like poetic language, Negritude, Africans and communism, Homer and Valmiki, colonialism, poetics of Greek, Rome and Persia, and so on are equally interesting. Some of them may be personal impressions, others are controversial and some others may be debatable but all are important and interesting as they all fall into the realm of Poetics. They are the impressions of arguably the most important poet of our times. Seshen’s The Arc of Blood is a bilingual book written in two languages, Telugu and English, as per the mood of the poet. Though it is referred to as a diary its form is more that of a discourse. But it is a different kind of Prelude (William Wordsworth’s long poem) which traces out the growth of a poet. Only a very few poets have unveiled their heart as clearly and earnestly as Seshen had done in it. For a student of literature, it is as absorbing and interesting as the interviews of the renowned poets and writers published in Paris Review.
- Prof. MADHURANTHAKAM NARENDRA
(Professor, English Department : Sri Venkateswara University , Tirupati:India )
(The writer is a Professor of English, short story writer, novelist and poet, writing in both Telugu and English)
Published in The Hans India (English Daily: Sunday Magazine: Date. 13th December 2015