RAMANUJAN AS A POET
INTRODUCTION: Ramanujan is one of the leading Indo- Anglican poets. He is a born poet who has given a new direction to Indian poetry in English. He composes poems in Kannada and English with equal command and mastery. His greatness lies in his unsurpassable ability to translate his experience. His status as a poet can be compared with that of Ezekiel and Kamala Das. But Ramanujan's real greatness lies in his craftsmanship. In this context, he towers above most of the Indo- Anglican poets.
MASTER OF LANGUAGE: A. K. Ramanujan is a great and gifted artist. He is certainly one of the greatest masters of English language among the Indo- Anglican poets. Apart from his theme he ranks very high for his use of the English language to express himself. His interest in linguistics influenced his conception of poetry and poetic craftsmanship. Most of the critics accept that Ramnujan has a great control over the English language. Commenting upon his linguistic excellence K. N. Daruwalla says,' Ramanujan's imagination is always focused and never diffuse. His language is rapier sharp. His poetry is both delicate and intricate as the spiral line of a shell.'
WORDS AND PHRASES: A. K. Ramanujan has shown a rare originality in the use of words. At the same time he has shown an extra- ordinary talent for phrase- making. His poems abound in felicities of word and phrase. Ramanujan is fond of everyday words. In the use of words he maintains economy. His apt and meaningful words offer Dantesque terseness and condensation. His diction is conspicuous for epigrammatic terseness, felicity of expression and classical simplicity and austerity. Examples are not far to seek. In his poem 'Of Mothers Among Other Things' Ramanujan's fondness for words and phrases is visible:
One talon crippled in a garden-
trap set for a mouse. Her saris
do not cling: they hang, loose
feather of a onetime wing.
REPETITION OF WORDS: Ramanujan uses mostly monosyllabic words. His concentration on vowel sounds makes his diction musical. In his poems there is always an intelligent play on words. He employs an important stylistic device of the repetition of words. With the help of this device the poet produces effect. It reminds us of Lawrence, Dylan Thomas and Kamala Das. Here is an example from his important poem 'A River':
city of temples and poets
who sang of cities and temples:
TECHNICAL SKILL: Ramanujan writes mostly in free verse. But he does make use of rhyme and assonance for creating musical effects. There is a subtle mingling of sound and sense in most of the poems. He uses English idiom with consummate skill and matchless command. He creates tableau like effects in many of his poems. His image craft is unsurpassable. Thus Ramanujan's technical skill remains matchless in Indian English poetry.
PREDOMINANCE OF IRONY: Irony is a device that is used by almost every Indo- Anglican poet. Ramanujan is not an exception. It is a striking feature of his poetry. He has employed this device in almost every poem. 'Obituary' is a fine poem, which is steeped in irony. Here the speaker has a good- humoured laugh at his father. In 'A River' the poet speaks ironically about the Tamil poets. In 'History' the poet ironically exposes the greed of the relatives.
THE DISTINCTIVE IMAGERY: Ramanujan's poetry is full of imagery. His images are concrete, precise, accurate, real and highly suggestive. His imagery creates vivid visual effects. In this respect Ramanujan is closer to Keats than Shelley. He has used all categories of images. Often the images are complex. His image may arouse visual and auditory sensations at the same time. The following lines of 'The Snake' may be taken for instance:
The twirls of their hisses
rise like tiny dust- cones on show- noon roads
winding through the farmer's feet.
CONCLUSION: Thus Ramanujan's technical accomplishment is indisputable. He rightly has received much praise for his craftsmanship. He is really a born poet who has given a new direction to the Indo- Anglican poetry.