A brief look at Alka Tyagi’s poems
n North India, many women write beautiful poetry in English. Some of them are my Facebook friends. I have not met them personally yet, except two at a Literary Festival in Udaipur year before last.
However, in October last I met a young lady at the Delhi Literary Festival. Her name is Alka Tyagi. She presented her own book of poetry called Whispers at the Ganga Ghat and other Poems, which I enjoyed much to my delight. To understand and appreciate her poetry we must first know something about her and her visions.
She teaches English Literature at Dyal Sigh College affiliated with the University of Delhi. Alka writes poetry in English and Hindi. Being a Yoga teacher in India and abroad, she is imbued with spiritualism. Currently, she is engaged in the study of Upanishads and other Agamic texts. Her doctoral work was on Andal and Akka Mahadevi- women saints in India. She obtained her PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Israeli Poet Diti Ronen has clearly classified her poetry, and I quote from the back of the attractive cover:
“This collection is divided into three sections- Speech, Whispers and Silence, which are symbolic of different states of mind ‘Conscious’, ‘Subconscious’ and ‘unconscious’ respectively.
The poetic persona appears to be on a journey through these stages and proceeds from first poem Sri Maha Bodhi in the first section to the last poem Lantern and the Mirror, in the last section.
“While the first poem reflects a deep desire to be born as a Buddha, to live fully, the last poem in the collection is a statement on endless cycles of death and rebirth.”
I shall now give the two poems mentioned for the readers to interpret them in their own understanding.
Shri Maha Bodhi
Speak to me, please! Like you did many lifetimes ago
I need you so much more than ever before
I cannot spend my nights with you anymore
Social gaze haunts me constantly
I cannot embrace you openly like before
They will throttle me
I cannot sing and eat with you
They will declare me mad
I am hopeless and tired
I am crushed by voices calling me from all directions
Give me a clue to the noble path
I know that you know it
Why are you so silent
Can you not decipher
My urgency from my fixed gaze
I secretly seek shelter under you
Can you not shower
Your love over me again
Can I not become a Buddha again!
Let us see how the poet reaches her destination to claim as follows:
Lantern and a Mirror
Incense sticks burnt.
Sacred verses were chanted,
Fragrant flowers lay in waiting,
The horse-rider flew in,
Carrying a lantern,
And a Mirror.
Claim the body tired and living
Promised to the soul
There are more than Six lovely poems in this 90- page book published by Mark Media in New Delhi priced at Indian Rupees 250.-
Let us enjoy some of the lines I liked in a few poems.
For the readers benefit let me quote a footnote to the poet’s poem Dancer. She says: Bhavas are Sentiments. According to Bharatamuni’s Natyashastra, there are eight basic human sentiments, which are: Erotic, Comic, Furious, Pathetic, Heroic, Wonder, Disgust, and Horror. All other sentiments are shades of these eight elemental Bhavas.
I like this poem on Connection:
Not a few shared moments, but an entire span of breaths, since we became living beings-
Not a few shared laughs, but an entire length of sorrows that encased in this bodily form-
Not a few clandestine secrets, but a range of mysterious thoughts that crossed our meditations-
Not a few years of youth and beauty, but full grace of subtle love that throbs in our heart beats-
I share with you, O Beloved companion!
There is a blend of Siva and Shakthi (Parvathi) into one. Lord Siva in this position is known as Arthanarishwara.
In a footnote to her poem, Alka Tyagi explains that in this state their bodies merge into each other. Now, look at her poem---
O, beloved! You sucked half of my body into yours, yet I am incomplete?
Half of me jutting out in the world
When will you drink? The whole of me, so I can dissolve and vanish into you, O Beloved!
I stop here. Please read all of Alka Tyagi’s Metaphysical poems. You would like them and also understand the Hindu philosophy and the Universal approach to poetry.