MUSINGS: Book Review by Shaleen Kumar

BOOK REVIEW

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Musings, by A. j. Sebastian, Kolkata: Writers Workshop, 1996, ISBN- 81-7189-900-5, Price- 120, Pages- 106. Reviewed by Shaleen Kumar Singh 2009 October 7.
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A.J. Sebastian, a Catholic priest belonging to the Salesians of Don Basco and a teacher by profession who has a long and successful literary career in both creative writing and criticism, has served the muse selflessly and Musings is the testimony of his creative excellence and spiritual ecstasy that he has experienced over the years. The collection under review carries eighty six poems either written on particular occasions like ‘8th December 1987’ (20), ‘May 1988’ (26), ‘1 November’ (79), and dates like ‘My First Fruit’ (written on 1987 on receiving the M.A. previous mark-sheet) (17), ‘The Saint and I’, (9) (written while reflecting on the photograph of him with mother Teresa) or his feelings and emotions that he recollected in tranquility while musing over God or his creation. These poems also mirror his deep love to the youngsters ‘Youngsters’, (34) or his leader Don Basco ‘Don Basco’ (14), ‘ A Dream Come True’(11), ‘BD Don Basco’(14). Poems like ‘G. M. Hopkins’(103), ‘Lady of Fatima’(78), ‘Pretty Susan’ (66), ‘B.D. Don Basco’ (14), ‘Poor Widow’ (94) and ‘Father Thomas’ (100) are the poems that show poet’s love to both great and common persons that have motivated him to write. A few poems like ‘God and I’ (44), ‘Jesus You Are My Life’ (33), ‘Vision of Jesus’ (101), and ‘O God’ (53) are spiritual in tone while ‘Divorced’ (98), ‘Poor Widow’ (94), ‘The bagger’ (85), ‘No Problem’ (82), ‘Pauper Millionaire’ (64), ‘They Have Killed It’ (57), ‘A Tie – A Draw’ (46), and ‘Hollow Mankind’(10) are the poems of social concern and the poems like ‘No Boundary’ ( ) and ‘Love Flowered’ ( )are the poems that relay the message of love.

The poems included in the volume are chiefly spiritual, motivational and devotional in tone, testify that the poet is sensitive, emotional and a lover of human values in life. He prays not for the self but for whole humanity. He says right in ‘Love flowered’:

It made me muse with a thought
Of our life of love sincere,
That keeps us ever in love
In Him who lives and loves in us
Let us love another
In this loveless world;
Our world. (15).

The poems of social concern by Sebastian are his musings of vigilant eyes, ever fixed on the wrongs. ‘Ozone Depletion’ and Murdering Nature are two poems written of man’s cruelty against nature. As in, ‘Ozone Depletion’ (56), he marks out the taking place of ‘Ozone depletion’ on account of ‘our reckless chemical pollution and again he seems justified when he says mournfully, “We are killing our own world;/ we are in for a mass suicide’.(56). And just for abstaining for such sinnous activities, he prays to the saints/ to guard me (him) / from all evil; / physical ailments/ and spiritual sloth’ (79). Or in ‘Murdering nature’ (42), he beholds the killing of vegetation and says: “We dig our own graves,/ and the trees are still there/ to coffin us in death ‘ (42).

Nearly all poems of Sebastian are his sincere outpourings of a spiritual heart and pious soul. Musings confers both spiritual and emotional joy to the readers of poetry. So it becomes on important book of young poetry lovers. I pay deep thanks to the poet for forwarding me the book to enjoy and allowing me to sail through his river of poetry.

Reviewed by Shaleen Kumar Singh 2009 October 7