« James Bond's Work Ethic | Main | National Trust Half-Term Fun »

A Fistful Of Stars: Images Of Tenderness

Today we welcome an Indian poet to the pages of Open Writing. Hariharan Balakrishnan recently published his first book of poems, A Fistful Of Stars.

Hariharan brings us a poem appropriately entitled Indian Summer.

It is preceded by an introduction to his book written by Dr. Sitakant Mahapatra who won the second highest civilian award in India on the day he wrote the preface. Dr. Mahapatra's poems have been translated into several languages and his work is read around the world.

Foreward by Dr. Sitakant Mahapatra
Images of Tenderness

It has been rightly said that if poetry does not come as naturally as leaves on a tree, it need not come at all. Even to an ordinary reader of the poems in this anthology it will be more than apparent that here are poems which have come naturally and effortlessly, without any desire for sophistication or dressing up. There is a degree of simplicity and intense emotion which define them. This is why they build an immediate bridge to the reader’s imagination.

They have an enviable pictorial quality. However, the picturisation and image structure have an admirable economy and precision that enables them to retain suggestivity and all the nuances of feeling even as they build a metaphoric world. Most of the poems reveal to the reader the true face of living a life in today’s complex world and yet retain the authenticity of feeling combined with an intensity of emotion.

Take a poem like A place for the Stars. When he says:
A fistful of stars I held one night
I know not if they are there today
Fingers mine I dare not clench
Stars are tender and fragile

The reader is touched by an emotion which is equally tender and fragile. He is also struck with the brilliance of the imagery of holding a fistful of stars and then wondering whether they are still there today. The poem Rain-peacock not only makes rain swing, dance and sing, but also reminds one of the myriad ways one has experienced it in the wet season of the monsoon when rain is a song and a burst of joy. Balakrishnan is obviously in love with Indian summer rain as another poem of that title makes it amply clear.

The poet’s invocation to Saraswati, the Goddess of poetry and music in his “twilight zone, the penumbra of life” begins with an honest poetic question posed to her ‘why have you come?’ A measure of such self-doubt gives the poem a charming ambivalence. Even if it is twilight zone, Balakrishnan is deeply aware that for him, as perhaps for all creative artists and poets, a continuing dream is to hear the footsteps coming everyday on this mother earth and every day is new. In the poem Fireflies, the glow worms become the stars and make the poet unsure if he himself is to them “a firefly or a mere worm”.

The ultimate bliss for the poet is a waft of the distant flute for his lonely soul when its music is a wail from the wilderness.

This is Balakrishnan’s first anthology and the poems reveal his deep attachment to poetry, the music of words and his capacity to orchestrate delicate emotions through them. I am sure his readers are entitled to expect more from him in the years ahead. More power to his elbow.


Indian Summer by Hariharan Balakrishnan
Noontime, walking out on the road
The day before the longest day
I started panting, sweat in the brow
Wet in the head and down my back

I ran towards mounts I saw
Beyond the green fields far afar
I started climbing step by step
Till my feet cried “no more”

Then I heard the distant thunder
Stopped on my tracks and listened
Is it a dream, or is it the truth
Rain-clouds at noon in summer!

The rumble came closer, and closer
As I sat down lashed by rain
The blazing sun was tired and hid
Behind the clouds in a golden sky

Rain poured down- so cool and sweet
On my head, neck- down my spine
Cooling my mind, soothing my soul

Washing away my anger and angst



Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.