29 March 2015

The Last Poem

Book: The Last Poem
Author: Rabindranath Tagore translated by Dilip Basu
Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Poetry is 'life's commentary in verse'.

This book stands testimonial to these words. Life and love are best explained in poetry. Mathew Arnold has called poetry the "criticism of life". I feel poetry is appreciation of life, even sadness, ugly and tragedies in poetry become beautiful. 

Rabindranath Tagore is known for his various feats as an artist and philosopher - but  it was poetry that reflected in all his fields of creativity and thinking. He has given us many gems of poetry along with national anthem which defibes our soul! His works have been critiqued and appreciated for so many decades that it's impossible to challenge his wisdom. He might have been a favourite with the west to get so much recognition for his works, but his brilliance and diversity is unquestionable. 

Like all writers who draw from their personal life we find Tagore's life in his novels, poems and art. Other than the characters, stories his thoughts are quiet evident and glaring. He infact critiques his own work through the words of his own protagonist. The poetic war ensues and as a reader only you know he is only competing with himself wether as Tagore or Nivaran Chakravarti. The book also touches upon Tagore's political ideology where he presents his opinions on those times Democracy, Home Rule and British Raj through brilliant analogies. 

"When Vishnu cut Sati's lifeless body with his discus, a hundred or more sacred spots sprung up wherever her dismembered limbs had fallen. Democracy today is like the scattered aristocracy. Petty aristocrats have popped up all over the world: we have political aristocrats, literary aristocrats and social aristocrats."

The protagonist Amit Ray, is a clever fellow who uses his intelligence and knowledge beautifully to present arguments probably the way Rabindrabath Tagore did too, winning over his admirers and opponents both. Like Amit's sister comments aptly, "You really don't have your own opinions. You always say what sounds clever at that particular moment." Yati quotes Amit in one of the discussions - "The inclination to do what one shouldn't is a great human virtue." and the most profound of all, the words to live by "Happiness should be simple." The frivolity and complexity of Amit meets its match in seriousness and simplicity of Lavanya. Even the matriarch Yogamaya enhances the verses and word playing with her wisdom. This book is for anyone who enjoys a good conversation, as they say in Hindi,  tark-vitark! 

The book is primarily about love. A well read and traveled man with his big words and ideals falls in love like an ordinary and how that love transforms him and brings him to the reality which had no space is his previous idealistic world. What is love, one wonders. Quoting from the book - 

"Love that freely floats in the sky is our soul; love that informs our daily life illumines our homes. I want both of them. There is a day when I can spread my wings and reach the heavens;then, I find my little home, where I lie in my little neat with my wings folded. But I still have my heaven."

This story is a love story, fulfilled or unfulfilled is not important, ending is not important, what's important is the poetry of romance. Anything I say would be considers judgemental, but some books are like that. They are not about stories or characters or plot - they are about words, stringed together like poetry. As a reader you take away that experience and it stays with you forget. 

This book will be special even more so being a gift from a friend. Thanks Hope! 


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