In response to a question of “understanding poetry” a noted poet of Peru Guevara Miraval Jaime Pablo responds as “ Poetry is – let’s say figuratively in respect to language – like a kind of transportation or carrying chamber that serves to dematerialise the being of its heavy burden of obscure or dark experience that makes it so vulnerable, while at the same time serving to situate the being in a different mass, better or larger, more transparent or brighter, and more intense of a different materiality, in a different place which the reader has to enter and remain in, in this case a book, just as in other cases is a film and this is how liberation is wrought.” These words prove as jig-saw fit to Lily Swarn and her impetus to dive in the universe of poetry leaving behind sky of gloom. In her own words A Trellis of Ecstasy, “contains the poetry emerging from the life-experiences, when I faced the helpless passing away of my son fighting a brave battle against ‘Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.’ The shock left me bewildered. God had His holy ordinance in place. It was surreal, and I moved mechanically as if under a spell. My heart was in shards as if shrapnel had pierced it in a million pieces. How, then, would I ever live in a house empty of his voice, his laughs? The sobs that racked my body couldn’t be suppressed. One day I picked up laptop and tapped out my shrieks on the tiny screen. Soft rain drenched my innards and dam broke…” (Preface)
For any parent such Himalaya high tragedy shatters the very basic foundation of ‘living’ but to stand against the wind to assemble the broken pieces is in itself an achievement. And what more a lover of poetry can wish to have, if such noble case is served by poetry. Great Sufi poet Mulana Rumi, says
“Don’t say, He’s is gone. He’s gone.
Death has nothing to do with going away.”
A Trellis of Ecstasy, is debut poetic composition of Lily Swarn. This anthology of 141 poems is based on seven sections viz. The Prize Winning Poems, Conversation with My Soul, Nature Poetry, Love, Spontaneous Ponderings, Portraits and Alliterations.
“Poetry should have a central place in all of our lives, not only for the aesthetic pleasure it affords, but also for its ability to awaken our senses, connect us with ourselves and others” writes Dr. Janette Hughes, this power of connecting within ourselves and others is all what sum up as theme of ‘The winning poems’. In fact, the poetry of this section embodies a rich variety of themes. From wishes and desires to the social acumen most of the social concerns are covered. But the tragedy of losing a son at his prime age seems to have changed the course of poet’s living drastically and that is the reason among all other themes almost each page smells the sprinkle of an elegiac rain. An elegy has two distinctive features; first, it is a lamentation, especially commemorative of the dead; secondly, it is quiet and meditative in tone rather than passionate and exalted. Both of these features are taken in concentration masterly. F. M Connell in A Text Book for the Study of Poetry defines elegy as “a species of confidence between writer and reader in which the poet makes confession of a sorrow that is particularly his own.”
Elation skidding down the stairs
Ebullience burning its bridges
Why don’t you come back
Giddy bursts of crazy laughter?
Where did you vanish
Whoops of cackling glee?
Are you hiding from me (Come on!)
Trickling into your eyes
Drop by drop
I want to enfold you close
Ad infinitum (Ad infinitum)
Dripping tears of salt
Ship us off to Eden
Where snakes don’t bite (Paper Dolls)
Was it you my love
That just walked by
Or was it the smell of
The first drop of rain
On my panting soul? (The Grave)
Take me O wind to the land of the dead
Where I will go meet my beloved
(Where I Would Like the Wind to Take Me)
Come up to the terrace and let me cast one greedy glance at you
Just one time? (Cinders)
The pigeons on my terrace
Don’t fly towards me any more
They have found a merry spot
Where cheerful banter snuggles
Under comforting quilts of down
Flights from my terrace
Have taken a migratory route (Flights from My Terrace)
Poetry always tries to make us more of a human being by discovering the traits of ignorance that we acquire from the choked social sphere. In section, Conversation with My Soul, the poetry of Lily Swarn conveys a message. It is the message of untainted soul, an optimist, of a person who is keenly looking at the world and worldly affairs with a light of hope. A hope that can extinguish all the dragon fires we are engulfed in and lit the candles of peace to adorn the human planet with the humanity flowing over the banks.
Humility never screeches in your ear
It bows reverentially and treads softly
Humility never demands recognition
It keeps its faith and trudges on…. (Humility)
Crush that dark grey cloud
Hovering above your horizons (Skipping Hope)
I dream of valleys where tulips blossom
And cherries redden without a qualm
I dream of a world where your hand in mine
Draws no glares from heartless souls (Yes, I am a Dreamer)
Igniting the rosy dawn
With hope for mankind
Amidst rivers of blood (Benaras Silk)
Under the frost of wintry burning
Droplets of rain on your windowpane
Crystallising into shards of glassy frost
Waiting for the whiff of Spring
To thaw my frost bitten heart (Frost)
“Love is the answer to everything.
It’s the only reason to do anything.”
In sections Nature Poetry, Love and Spontaneous Ponderings, the poet attains a kind of maturation in presenting the lyrical poetry. There are four characteristic features of lyrical poetry Sincerity: Whatever the subject may be, the emotions must not be manufactured but original straight from the core of poet’s heart. Universality: Although the sentiments expressed are personal but still they must be universal without any bias. Concentration: The poetry must move on with exquisiteness without exaggeration and irrelevant details. Structural Perfection: Someone has said about the lyrical poetry that “it must be perfect in proportion to its brevity.” As the reading proceeds from one section to another, it seems that aforesaid parameters were taken in consideration. No doubt, the concentration and structural perfection were not followed in a way they should be but one must admit that sincerity and universality are followed in a good way. Although there is a scope to upgrade each section still the reader feels satisfied to greater extent to satiate the inner thirst.
Why didn’t you make way for the funeral vans followed by
Piteously sobbing women?
Were you still busy writing love ditties in the ink of your
Crimson hued blood? (The Jasmine Story)
You called my name
In soft undertones
From another realm
I froze like
A moth on ice (I Died)
May days spent in gazing at your flamboyant spread
Twittering and chirping along with the cuckoo bird
Remembering summer balls and May Queens of yore
Dressed to kill with tiaras on fire
A feast for sore eyes on motley traffic signals
Harbinger of dust storms and the potent sun god (Happy May Day)
It drains away my worries
It gobbles up my woes
Poetry is my best friend
It never leaves me alone (Poetry, I Love You)
‘I know why the caged bird sings’
It sings of human rights violations
It sings of the hurts of captivity
It sings of ruthless brutal wars
That encroach on human dignity (I know why the caged bird sings)
Portraits, is a kind of introductory section to introduce the faces who impressed the poet in one or other way at one or the other point of her life. This section can be taken as a clue as well that the poet is a protagonist of feminism as by and large it is only the female characters that have succeeded in impressing her.
In section Alliteration, there is a testimony that Lily Swarn is not only a good poet but a craftswoman as well.
Cutting to the chase, all that can be said about the book is that it is what a lover of literature and poetry especially hankers after to savour from the hueful verses that can never sufiet his thirst.
Book Name: A Trellis of Ecstasy
Author: Lily Swarn
Year of Publication: 2017
Published by: Authorspress, New Delhi
Reviewer: Perveiz Ali