John Keats once said, “If poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.” Poetry is all about expressing different emotions and using fewer words than ordinary speech to convey what a person is thinking. This “spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions,” as William Wordsworth said, finds reflection in modern day writing of Ritu Borah in his collection of poems, “Hymns of Mind and Heart To Soul: Building a World With All.” The poems are hymns in the real sense, and the readers can not overlook this quality for a single moment.
The cover of the book gives an image of a person standing in a natural setting. There is an air of Wordsworthian influence from here itself, and even before the readers open a single page of the book, they are ready to receive the refreshing experience that awaits them. As they read the “About the Book” details, it becomes clearer that they will be reading the impressions of a young mind influenced by the romantics and talking about different subjects in the light of the modern era.
Borah poems in “Hymns of Mind and Heart To Soul” are short and crisp, but this very compactness becomes their defining feature and holds the interest of the readers. Long poems are interesting, but the shortness is how Borah differentiates his poetry from the romantics with a touch of the youth of the modern era living in a time of technological boom. He uses this technique in the initial poems of his collection. By the time the readers reach the longer poems, they are already in tune with Borah’s style and the manner in which he writes.
He writes the poems on subjects that would come to mind on different occasions. Even though he writes poetry, but this is a Baconian feature that the readers may observe. Catering to this, the themes that the poet explores are equally diverse and again give the feeling of reading Bacon’s essays in a poetic style because of the vastness of subjects covered. His themes range from individual thoughts, people, society, religion, nationalism, modern life, and, most importantly, literature. All these themes are accompanied by illustrations here and there to add relevance and making the text more meaningful.
One of the poems in “Hymns of Mind and Heart To Soul” having the flavour of modern culture is, “What’s app experience,” where the issue is contemporary of course, but the poet gives his own twist by keeping language like that of Elizabethan or Shakespearean England. The readers can not help but applaud this effort. This style is merely an introduction to the potential of the poet in the art of poetry writing. The readers can expect a lot more powerful work in the future.
In addition to this, there are poems like “Exam time … Good luck to all,” “The teacher,” where the readers may get an opportunity to go back to the days when they were young. On the other hand, a poem like “Valiant knight of honour,” has the air of the medieval times when knights and chivalry were dominant themes in writing. Simultaneously, another poem, “Unity in destruction,” is quite different in content and gives a glimpse of T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” in the manner in which it is written. The dynamism of Borah’s writing only begins to spread its wings here. As readers read further, they see poems like “Jai jawan” which uses Hindi language as the medium of expression and then another poem, “A soul in need to adore thee” which shows how deeply rooted the author is in literature as he names important figures of literature in not just English but Greek and Italian too.
Overall, Borah’s collection is more of a plethora of his understanding and musings after being well-read and have scholarly knowledge of the classics. The readers who have visited the classics or are well aware of them would enjoy Borah’s “Hymns of Mind and Heart To Soul,” and even readers who are not aware of the classics can find topics of their interest in the other themes that the author covers using his dynamism of writing poetry.