Published:  12:00 AM, 05 March 2017

Looking at life paradoxically

Jugal Mrittikar Biruddho Kothon by Rafiq Hasan, Publisher - Bishakha Prokashoni in 2009

Mahfuz Ul Hasib Chowdhury reveals the penchant,  luster, attachment and competency of the versifier


Poet Rafiq Hasan's verses always give me pleasure. His diction, style, rhymes, allegories, themes and approach are very thought-provoking and reflective. He has so far written a great deal of poems and published several poetry books all of which deserve high appreciation. His devotion to poetry sometimes surprises me because he has been involved in an English newspaper as a member of editorial panel which occupies most of his time. But still he is able to manage time to put his pen and papers together for writing poems. That's astonishing and at the same time plausible. Rafiq Hasan is a living example that workload cannot hinder creative knacks if persistence and true quality prevail.

I have recently gone through his book Jugal Mrittikar Biruddho Kothon which contains a remarkable number of well-written poems on different thematic angles. These poems are written in both poetic and prosaic forms. Rafiq Hasan, as I have observed in his other books too, is fond of experimenting with poetic features and physiognomies. It requires courage to do so because there is a likelihood of hitting the wrong button at times, but Rafiq Hasan seems to be bold enough to carry on his practice to examine and reexamine the structure, words, metaphors and other things of his poetry. It exposes the poet's deep attachment with different dimensions of poetry, his poetic taste, intellect and competency. Rafiq Hasan reminds me of the classical era while poets used to scrutinize their own verses and always endeavored to exceed themselves in terms of poetic beauty and worth.

Coming back to Jugal Mrittikar Biruddho Kothon, I initially found it difficult to reach a precise English translation for the book's title, particularly while I was thinking about writing something on this book after completely reading it. However, after exercising some thoughts, I have somehow put together some English words. The English title for this book which I have finally resolved with my limited wit is: "Paradoxes of Coupled Earth". I have slightly resorted to an allegoric touch besides remaining closer to the originality of the Bengali title. Readers are requested to excuse me if it does not sound good enough, as I never claim myself to be foolproof in my authorial jurisprudence.

All the forty eight pages of the book carry wonderfully woven poetry on love, nature, history, life, current global scenario and a couple of strikingly penetrative satirical poems. Rafiq Hasan's pleasure and pain both being a poet have been illustrated in his poems. He loves poetry and at the same time he has admitted through his poems the pangs poets have to undergo.

The universal appeal of love between men and women are also movingly described in a few poems which speak of the sweetness as well as the perils of romance. Rafiq Hasan's analogies deserve special attention while perusing his poems. In one poem he has compared love to the briskness of grass just drenched by rainwater. It is superbly mind-blowing. Allusions to grass always ring a mellifluent bell in my mind recalling Walt Whitman, the greatest ever American poet who looked for the meaning of life and the meaning of divinity in the grass-beds on his lawn.

A marvelous portrait of rural Bengal radiates with the illusive smell coming from the body of female farmers which arouses a feeling of love and sensual urge in the poet's mind. The earth-made huts in villages and the earthen aroma of countryside appear to have impressed Rafiq Hasan profoundly like it is found in the poems of Al Mahmood, Seamus Heaney and Robert Frost. In this way readers can connect Rafiq Hasan's poems with the masterful poems by globally renowned poets for a better understanding of the poetic trends influencing bards and minnesingers from various landscapes in several parts of the world. Rafiq Hasan's patriotic spirit has touched me in another poem of this book in which he has displayed his passionate attraction for the bushes, jungles, flowers and herbs of Bangladesh. Patriotism has boosted the exhilaration of many poets worldwide. Rafiq Hasan is one of them.

The paradoxes and contradictions barraging life also have been addressed by Rafiq Hasan in his poetry. Life sometimes seems like a "trident" to him with three blades which refer to the dilemma and perplexity we often face while dealing with the hazards and hurdles of destiny.

Shifting eyes to Rafiq Hasan's approach to the ongoing restless circumstances prevailing across the world, his awareness about the current bleak perspectives of global geopolitics is notably found in his poems. The horrors of war and screams of war victims resonantly echo from a few poems which call for peace and harmony. Some of his poems bear strong satirical implications applying extraordinary metaphors. Particularly, Rafiq Hasan's poem titled "Banor Kahini" (A Tale of Monkeys) is an outstanding example of how much power his poetry contains to devastate adversities with signs and symbols.

However, despite all the praiseworthy characteristics of Rafiq Hasan's poetry, I would like to offer a piece of suggestion through this write-up. And that is to slightly reduce his application of allegories because some readers may miss the focal points or messages of his poems if they cannot exactly figure out what the allegories or metaphors actually signify.

Rafiq Hasan has been working for The Asian Age for last few years. His simultaneous occupation with journalism and poetry sounds constructive highlighting the fact that two different categories of work can be done hand in hand if diligence and hard work can be neatly dovetailed.


The reviewer is a literary critic for The Asian Age


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