Of rasa, rhyme ’n realism

Sucheta Dasgupta


I will not allow form to dictate content,” says Punjabi Nepalis poet and columnist Yuyutsu RD Sharma in a recent interview in Amsterdam. “It must be the other way round.”

Those are the words becoming a master of the genre which Yuyutsu most certainly is and a writer of a new millennium that, undoubtedly, is unfettered by prejudice and convention — that values freedom, creativity and individualism as highways to salvation of the poetic soul. Yet Yuyutsu it is who talks of agrarian wisdom and the simple joys of communal living, exalting the robust, pure thoughts of the subcontinental Annapurnese village goatherd to the realms of profundity where they really belong in his latest volume of poems, “The Lake Fewa and a Horse”. Striking out against violence by the petty yet powerful and the ills of a vacant modernism, it is his poetry that mingles global concerns with the continuity of everyday experience in the hilly outreaches of the Himalayas, his verse pouring freely as if from an unspeakable angst.

“The kisses you refused were the best/Like the poems on the lake I did not write...” The poems that Yuyutsu does write, however, are shining jewels of passion, energy and splendid craft, redolent with vivid, dreamlike, visual imagery (News of Allen Ginsberg’s Death), strengthened by realistic observation (The Last Poem of My Life) and powered by strong, male eroticism (A Rainbow, River: Morning, at Night). His is an unabashed return to the male gaze that is refreshing, audacious and solemn by turns, reminding one of the stirring sound of rolling drums and beating rain. His is “poetry where pastoral elegy fuses with magic realism; where earthy, common sense mysticism is interlaced with lush sexuality”.

In nurturing his oriental heritage and naturalist vision, however, Yuyutsu makes the mistake of seemingly rejecting the entire urban paradigm of living; business, technology, et al, with its flaws as well as its contributions to the human truth. One also wonders if the titles of the pieces in this volume, the foreword to which has been written by none less than illustrious American poet and professor David Ray, could be spared more attention: they are too direct and lack the intriguing quality so apparent in the lines that follow.

Worry is needless, however, especially as it is never beyond the capabilities of this hugely talented writer, who has so spontaneously chosen the cognomen of the last of the Kauravas to rechristen himself, a name that means “one who is eager to battle” that belongs to a hero who, against all odds, changes camps to join the numerically puny Pandavas who, in their turn, go on to win the great Mahabharata war, to switch tacks to approach the same subject from a different angle, thus forever favouring the more holistic view. For Yuyutsu it was who always chose strife over staticity, the underdog over the reigning champ and the truth of the golden minority over the bombast of the overwhelming “others”. And Yuyutsu it may well be who unifies the two outwardly contrasting philosophies of east and west that will eventually lead to victory for both life and art.