Ramanujan’s collection of poetry published by Oxford India Paperbacks has been a joyous read for me so far. The poems are taken from four different collections published by A K Ramanujan in his lifetime. Although the poems are very well-written, it lacks polish, to say the least. Moreover, the impression of Ramanujan’s Christian thoughts often overpowers the ethos of Indianness that he would rather have liked to be reflected in his poems. Still, with all lacks and limitations, the poems by Ramanujan are noteworthy and interesting but strictly for the classical readers of Indian English poetry who would take interest in reading poems with sense and meanings.
The memories by the poet from the past – relatives, contours, ideas and teachings as a child, love interest and so on… these things find a place in the early as well as later collections of poems. Sometimes, the poems make very little or no sense at all but still the readers may excavate something or the little from the lines. Ramanujan’s imaginative faculty is limited but wide enough to make poems out of nothing. And that is why the poems are better than the poems written by modern Indian English poets.
Collected Poems by A. K. Ramanujan is a collection that will let the readers have an idea of the basics of poetry by Ramanujan. However, at times, the gravity of the issues finds its reflection in the poems as well. Ramanujan spent many years of his life in the countries other than India and he remembers the days of his country so ardently in his poems. The reflection called Indianness in Indian English poetry also come up every now and then in the lines in his later collections like The Black Hen in 1995.
Ramanujan is a part of the pillar that forms the sensible part in Indian English poetry. And the reasons that we strive to find the Indian conscious or Indianness in Indian English poetry are these very things. Like Aurobindo and many other poets (Tagore may be excluded because his interests were rather different) who tried to paint their imaginations with the inspirations drawn from the great Indian past, Ramanujan also tries to do the same. You can know more about him by reading his biography.