The Pagan-Reviews

Pagan – Review by Latha Prem Sakhya

Reading "The Pagan" by Gopakumar Radhakrishnan was a delightful experience for me. It’s simplicity blankets thoughts profound making one wonder at its lucidity and meditative flow. Reading the book from the beginning is like going into a state of meditation.

Themes revolve round everyday life, nature and God the pagan and the pagan poet, the worshipper. And he draws the reader repeatedly to take notice of things which the post modern generations ignore in their "sick hurry and fret of life". Like Arnold"s  scholar gypsy, the poet is in a quest and he takes along the readers to enjoy, appreciate and think about all the little and big things too, which the ordinary man misses in his day to day life.

The journey of self discovery begins with the bard entering the ancient sun temple of Modhera where he emerges as a pagan sun worshipper.

The power of the sun God the sustainer of life is visibly created in" The Rise".

The welcome of dawn brings out the bard's sensitive perception of life around him.

Nothing in nature escapes the poet's eyes.  Drawing the reader into the enchanting world where the plain hibiscus to the lone black bird is special for him.

For the bard everything in nature has  a gender, they are entities with a life of their own.  The poems reiterate the mission of the poet to guide man to lead a hopeful life and the bard himself becomes a paradigm for positive living. Life, he says should be lived like a poem, sensitively using all the five senses. He has a very unique way of looking at things and writing about them. 

The poet, the artist emerges like a lamp shedding light on everything and leading the reader from darkness to light.

Poem after poem he reiterates his tryst with different aspects of nature and thereby his entrance into the world of spirituality. Holding umbrella to all this is an  evasive sense of dejavu that floats in and out of his creations making his poems mesmeric.

Like Wordsworth he is also concerned about man's indifference to nature. Often the bard expresses an intense desire to leave behind the mundane world and reach a sublime realm where everything appeals to his poetic sense.

With the pagan poet we travel to his beloved pagan country which is none other than "Bharat", he loves for its people "myths and fantasies" and for its Art , thus bringing out his patriotism.

The poets’ Dharma he believes strongly is to become sources of inspiration when the world seems “dark, pessimistic and ruthless". And like the optimistic poet Robert Browning, he ends the first section affirming his strong belief in God the “higher conscience".

 

The second section begins with an invitation to accompany the bard with prayer to understand the phenomenon, called life. It is here the reader gets an illuminating description of a pagan and the poet's startling revelation that all human beings are pagans in a way. The poet goes on to confess his realization that his soul does not belong to him. And one becomes conscious of  Carl Jung's theory  of atavism were Jung says each man inherits and  contains in himself the memory of his generation, which is called collective unconscious. And the poet is conscious of it when he says one carries within, the light of the preceding generation.

For the poet art is his  ònly religion. And the duty of the artist is to" paint your Lord with your gift". And the poet merges himself with nature and her secret depths and sings the Pagan' s prayer to embrace every living being and be one with them. The session ends with the poet seeking the blessing of the sun God and the cosmic powers because he feels that he is their pagan child who is now ready for his “inward journey".

In the third session the poet is on a "descend" which is nothing other than a novel initiation and an acceptance of life and death. The pagan bard through his poetic journey evolves into a karmic yogi who invites the reader to accompany him on his Karmic journey.

At the end of the journey, the the poet, the seeker delineates powerfully the painful hurdles and turmoil with acceptance. The poetic mind itself is in a chaotic state and the poet pleads for the end of the dissent he sees everywhere in the name of religion and God and hopes for a new beginning.

Like the great fisherman, he too becomes a fisher of poems from his being which has undergone a sea change. He also sees poetry everywhere which is invisible to men who had become blind and deaf through materialistic living.  Unlike Wordsworth who laments "Oh I would rather be a pagan suckled in a creed out worn" he is already one, so he can perceive the beauty of nature  and life without any veil. And as the book ends with songs of night the readers too contine the journey with the bard.

 

The poems written in a simple, lucid language with apt selection of words have a meditative tone which gently wafts the readers to a world of enchantment, where time stands still.

The book in a way traces the growth and development of a poet. The four sections like the four seasons flow from one to another smoothly making one think of nature's transition from one season to another and they trace symbolically his progress as a pagan poet and by the end of the book we find a bard who has realized his Dharma and accepted it as his karmic duty.



Latha Prem Sakhya.
Retired - Professor of English,
Poet and Painter

 
 

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