Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Collected Poems of the British-Asian poet Reginald Massey

It brings one up short to be confronted with the Collected Poems of a contemporary who one knows more or less well personally: I used to produce poems a little more often but have over the last several years succeeded in completing only about one a year!

Masseyji's collection falls into 2 sections. The first part consists substantially of a long poem "Lament of a Lost Hero" and nine short poems - including those to Vikram Seth, Ambika Paul, "Saeed" (presumably Jaffrey) and W.H. Auden. The second section consists of older poems, some of which were published in magazines, journals and anthologies.

The other poems are interesting and even good but it is "Lament of a Lost Hero" which rightly takes pride of place in the collection - every callow youth writes love poems.

If one ignores Sri Aurobindo (or Aurobindo Ghosh as his name was before he was ennobled), whose turgid Greek classical metre is overpoweringly soporific, "Lament of a Lost Hero" is the most technically competent and socially aware long poem embodying a contemporary Indian consciousness to have emerged from our land in our 60 years of independence.

In any case, here is one of his lovely short poems:


The autumn moon
beckons her silent love
the pool;
For she knows
his patient eye
will soon be glazed
with a cataract
of ice. Sphere: Related Content

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