Book Review: The Select Nonsense of Sukumar Ray

Poetry is something I love to read, and experiment with. Many people think that there has to be a lot of depth to poetry and such, but I think poetry can be very simple too. It can relieve people of their burdens, and it can bring joy as well.

I was gifted this book by a friend, and I started reading it eagerly because of that recommendation. Sukumar Ray’s poetry stands out very easily. It doesn’t need to pretend to be anything else. The book even calls the poetry nonsense. Most poems do not make sense at all, but yet, they aren’t really nonsense. Confusing, isn’t it? The book is a translation of Ray’s collection Abol Tabol, which translates itself to “Rhymes Without Reason”. That in itself makes it special to me, and not nonsense. Each poem in this collection has a rhythm to it, and a rhyme to it. Poetry need not rhyme, but these do.

Two of my favorite poems from this book are Hotch Potch and The Power of Music. I had read them before I found them in this book, and it was a delight to discover them once again. The former combines animal names and brings about mixing and matching them into new names. Be it a pochard and a porcupine becoming a porcochard, or an elephant and a whale coming together in a whalephant, the poem is a hoot. Brilliant nonsense, if I say so myself. The latter poem is the story of Bhisma Lochan Sharma, whose musical dreams couldn’t be stopped by anyone till an unexpected source put that problem to bay. What I loved in the poem is the beat to the verse, when I said it out loud.

Other poems are hilarious too. Some that come to mind when I look back after reading are The Rule of Twenty-One, Hit and Miss, The Strong Man and All’s Well. These are poems you don’t need a dictionary to understand. The language is very simple. At times, the translation doesn’t do justice to the original work, but though I do not know Bengali, I think that this translation does do it justice because of the way it brings joy to the reader.

I’m a bit sad that it took me so long to finally read this book, but delighted that it is part of my collection. It is definitely one that I will read again, because when life brings sadness, such poems will help to bring back the smiles.


A Score Of 9 Out Of 10
Book Details
Title: The Select Nonsense of Sukumar Ray
Author(s): Sukumar Ray
Translator: Sukanta Chaudhuri
Genre: Poetry
ISBN/ASIN: 9780195630398 Publisher: Oxford India Paperbacks

No payment was taken for this review. The views expressed here are mine, and they remain uninfluenced and unbiased.


(© Vinay Leo R. @ A Bookworm’s Musing
13th August 2017)

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