Two oldmen


Two oldmen

Two oldmen met each other
One entered from a door
The other leaving

Both smiled at each other
Talked insane to the other
One has learned this world
The other yet to
One thing common
Both innocent at the moment
Rest too complex to explain
Like life itself!


“Two oldmen” (c) Samir K. Dash: 2011,

All Rights Reserved. No part of the above poem(s) can be published any where in any form (electronic or non-electronic ), with out the written permission of author. However you can direct yours links to this page in your websites.



Distant Beach

In the bank of my memories

I used to gather my oysters

In the sands of time

There are still my mounts

But a feeling of lonliness

Absent with me ..the other one

Carrying the words

Walking ahead of me

— the world of wonders

To haunt me in the evening
While sitting at the side-window

Like a life in the sideways,

Feeling gush of the damp wind

Blowing blowing…

Reminding me of a girl

At the distant beach.



“Distant Beach” (c) Samir K. Dash:  2011,

All Rights Reserved. No part of the above poem(s) can be published any where in any form (electronic or non-electronic ), with out the written permission of author. However you can direct yours links to this page in your websites.




affair - samir k dash 2011



It is not thatI reach for your body

To touch your uncovered chest

To feel my hunger

With the twins

But something deep for I crave

That makes what you are

— an innocent face

with two suspecting eyes

trying to search for the feelings

lost in last pages of past.

Sensations are, but made in heaven

where you wish to wander

To gather the moments that I spent with you

To feel the lips that once searched for you

— you know it well

Tomorrow won’t be the same again

where you’ll long for my touch

And I’ll be in someone else’s embrace!




“Affair” (c) Samir K. Dash:  3rd March 2011,

All Rights Reserved. No part of the above poem(s) can be published any where in any form (electronic or non-electronic ), with out the written permission of author. However you can direct yours links to this page in your websites.



Thought Castle



Thought Castle


I don’t know

Why I long to own you

Miss you in the evening times

Sitting beside my books

With the neighbor of some blank pages

Waiting for some dark impressionsI would make on them

Sealing their fate, like you have made mine.

The dark impressions, on the sheetsLike ghosts of some unknown fear

— a fear I have reserved from you

The way I feel threatened

By the thought of losing you.

I know love is not my feeling

It is something deeper in me!


Feb 22, 2011

Fallacies for Advanced Readers

It was in the neo-classical age, when Pope aimed his bitter agonies upon Colliey Cibber – because he [Cibber] had severely criticized Pope’s earlier work – Cibber commented that once a writer writes something, it becomes no longer his own, and therefore he should not be sentimental due to the criticism that is to be made on his work , as a man who goes to the rain, should not be worried about being wet.

This is perhaps the best expression of mankind on the rising tendencies related to the field of judgement of literature. I say this because, the work of a critic and the criticism on it are two dimension of whole literary study, and every scholar knows that there is an age old conflict between these two to gain supremacy over the other. This fact that a conflict is going on is even not simply in black or white, rather it turned out to be in a range of shades of grey – i.e. the critical discussion of literature has atendency to diverge the aim with which one starts to enter into the process of critical evaluation of any work of art. We see from Plato’s time that the discussion of literature hangs over mainly two aspects:

  1. What is the literature (or poetry )?
  2. What is its aim?


But while analyzing literature, the supposed aim seems more blur and undergoes a process of shifting. The more one tries to reach at the aim, the more it slips back like a mirage. We may use post-structuralist views that each time the “signified” is replaced by a signifier due to the fact that multiplicity of meaning exists and a text can’t have ‘a meaning’. So, what I am trying point out here is that due to such “shifts” in our presupposed aim to find out truth related to any piece of work of art, there arises the errors , which the New Critics had, in their attempt to categories the end of their ideology, grouped under the common term ‘fallacy’.

All the well established fallacies, that have secured their seats in various glossaries of literary terms, such as ‘Affective Fallacy’, ‘Tragic Fallacy’, ‘Internal Fallacy’, are in fact some kind of the ‘conflict’ that I have mentioned at the very beginning of this paper.

This conflict between writer and critic can be seen as the junction where diverging paths of exploration to the studies of different fallacies are originated. And this was recognized first by C.S. Lewis, who termed this ‘root of conflict’ as ‘Personal Heresy’. In 1934, C.S.lewis published an article ‘The Personal Heresy in criticism’ in Essays and Studies, where he reacted heavily to E.M.W.Tilliyard’s view that poetry is a state of mind of the poet – a reflection of the personality of the poet. Then the replies and counter replies of the two were later came up in a single volume in 1939 under the title The Personal Heresy.


The seed of such conflict was there back in the 20s, in the criticism of T.S.Eliot and I.A.Richards. Eliot’s view on ‘tradition’ squeezed the personality of the author out of his work as he described the expression by the poet as the product of past authors’ dead metaphors, language, ideas, expressions, by which he concluded that there is no individual pure-contribution of the author present in his work. Richard’s dissection of human mind and its working in the context of literary creation and judgment presented the similar view. And these views were concluded as ‘Internal fallacy’ in 1946 by W.K.Winsmatt in his book The Intentional Fallacy (reprinted in his The Verbal Icon,1954),where he summed up the “age old conflict” and declared it an error to assign the possession of any of the either of the writer or the critic on any work of art – that a poem ‘is not the critic’s own and not the author’s.’ and it is concluded that the work of art ‘goes about the world beyond his [ author or critic] to intend about it or control it.’

This view was later made the ‘punch line’ of the readers response theory, that exploited the newly invented structure and post structural jargon to sell this very old wine in a new bottle. Each critic of the readers response theory used a shade that is not exactly black or white, but a ‘grey’ to tell the same old theory.

But the difference that was there in the readers response theory was that, it instead of talking about the conflict directly, tried to gossip on one of the aspect of the conflict – the ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ aspect of whole literary process from author to critic (or reader).

What we see here is how we slip from the original aim (we slip from focusing on the conflict to an aspect of this conflict). This ‘deferring’ from the soul aim is another kind of fallacy about which W.K.Wnsmatt, talked in 1954 in The Verbal Icon. This he termed as ‘Affective Fallacy’.

This fallacy is the error, which arises from the ‘deference’ from the ontological aspect of literature to a dimension which is relatively near to the centre of the discussion, but is in fact not the exact centre – ‘a confusion between the poem and its results (what it is and what it does).’

This critical error that ‘results in the mind of the reader’ is in fact the very base on which deconstructionist ideas are based upon. Derrida’s, Focault’s theories are always insisting upon  the ‘gap’ that exists between ‘signiufier and ‘signified’, which ultimately leads the ‘signifier’ to be a ‘zaum’ (Russian term indicating that ultimate truth can be never expressed).

And from this whole discussion, we can form a rough hypothesis that the knowledge (if seen as a ‘tantalization’) is in fact lacks any reason or logic to be expressede through any means  of articulation. But that does not mean that we must start to make our literature devoid of the sequence or logic, so that (foolish enough) our literature will resemble the experience. Because, that would be a process of unleashing. And what I am talking here in this very paragraph is all about another fallacy known as ‘Fallacy of Expressive Form’. This term, R.P.Blackmur  had adopted , from the observations of Yover Winters, who talked about ‘Heresy of Expressive Form’— that  stands for the error due to the attempt to express or or describe the ‘disintegration of a belief or a civilization in a chaotic form’. And Winters was on the view that though the world is chaotic, we must not use disintegrating form of mode of expression (such as Ulysses by Joyce).

Though Winters believed that it is impossible to discipline the indiscipline in any expression, I feel that after deconstruction theory, such a thinking can’t be any more a part of our optimistic consciousness, because no meaning is possible due to the absence of the centre in our belief system – no point of convergence exists – and which ultimately prescribes us just (to quote Edward Said)‘to attempt in spite of the impossibility of success’.

© Samir K. Dash, 2003

John Donne, a Philosopher?

john-donneR.W. Emerson describes Donne and Cowley as a poet with philosophical insight —

‘ Cowley and Donne are philosophers. To their insight there is no trifle. But philosophy in insight is so much the habit of their minds that they can hardly see as a poet…’

This statement of Emerson certainly puts some of us in trouble, who formerly appreciated the view that a poet is essentially a philosopher as the explorer of new truths of life as suggested by Sidney in his Apology of poetry.  This problem is enhanced by the fact that in case of Donne, the excessiveness of philosophy surpassed the natural reaction of a poet’s emotion to the outside world and he ‘can hardly see as a poet should the beautiful forms and colours  of things, as a chemist may be less alive to the picturesque’.

The modern view, that a kind of indifference that was created in minds of the grave diggers towards the dead body of Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, due to excessive philosophical nature in them, is developed in Donne. So, Donne has the bad reputation of intellectualizing the things that are the property of heart. Like Hermion (a character in D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love) , Donne intellectualizes everything regarding love, sex, and the similar. This tendency of his is due to also reflected in his choice and use of words which according to Arthur Symons ‘mean things, and it is the things that matter’ (Fortnightly Review, 1899).

The result of this kind of philosophical bent of mind in Donne costed him to loose his point in ‘Poetic scale’ of Literary Magazine in 1758.

 “As a poet he was disparaged either indirectly, as in Pope’s ‘versifying’ of his satires, openly as in the ‘poetical scale’ given in the Literary magazine of  1758. the scale gave a possible eighty points to the poets for ‘Genius’, Judgment, Learning, Versification […] Donne was omitted from the scale because although a man of wit ‘he seems to have been at pains not to pass for a poet’ ” (Introduction to The Metaphysical Poets, Case Book Series).

Donne’s poetry when explored structurally, it exhibits the tendency of a philosopher’s thesis – every time an argument is made which is followed by a kind of analysis and interpretation that attempts to prove the argument for its support. Joan Bennett, for this reason writes: “[…] thought of a mind moving from the contemplation of fact to the deduction from a fact  and thence to a conclusion” (The Five Metaphysical poets, 1964).

In such a structure, every point follows logically ‘one by one’, ‘step by step’, which because the leading characterizing element in defining the whole metaphysical poetic movement:

“The peculiarity of the metaphysical poets is not that they relate, but that the relation they perceive are more often logical than sensuous or emotional” (Ibid)

for instance in ‘Extaise’ , Donne first gives the images of the two persons (one lover with his beloved) in one state at ‘one another’s best’ –

‘Our hander were firmly cimented’;

‘Our eyes upon one double thread’;

‘all our means to make us one’;

— all these are infact the argument on the statement which is analysed and proved like a philosophical treatise in the rest seventy lines; of the poem with the lines like

‘[…] good love here grow all minde’ or ‘A single violet transplant,’.

Through these arguments he proves another point that how body is an ‘allay’ in getting ‘extaise’. Even when one reads ‘The Flea’, he is sure to notice how Donne’s double edged logic is put to use.

Thus Donne’s pattern has a fix line of movement. This pattern is like the mosaic where each bit is chosen with the help of intellect and reason  to produce a colour of thought (which is evidently the product of mind rather than of heart) that has shades in black and white, unlike the emotion portrayed by the poets, that spreads to any shades and hues of the foresaid complementary colours. One of such mosaic is diction and imagery in Donne’s poems.

Every learned person knows that values can not be forced even if conveyed with good intentions, and  no real integration of values can be achieved unless the learner is conveyed through a proper mode of communication. This communication mode , the key factor of all, differs with the use of diction and image and hence different subjects need different kinds of use of such – the meaning of which Coleridge and Wordsworth understood in their own terms. In case of Donne, the diction got a new make up in poetry. In Donne’s case the diction was shaped according to his new need, to prove his hypothesis through poetry – which many of his time could not appreciate . In Hazilt’s view this un-acceptance can be seen perfectly:

“[…] they thought anything was poetry that differed from ordinary prose and the natural impression of things, by being intricate farfetched and improbable” (Rhetoric, 1828)

But later these so called ‘metaphorical jargon’ of Donne, which according to Eliot spread ‘from the geographers globe to the tear, and the tear to the deluge’, got recognition as not far fetched, but the common element seen through a different perspective, which we might take for the philosophical point of view affected by raising of Mathematics and Science :

“It seems illegitimate, for example to conjecture that Donne’s choice of a compass [in order to illuminate how ‘our two souls’ be one] has some equivocal force use of lovers, […] . it is to us rather than to Donne that compasses are part of the common place paraphernalia of high school mathematics”(Tuve, Rosemund  — ‘The Criterion of Decorum’ , 1947 ).

© Samir K. Dash, 2005

Wordsworth’s “Ode on Intimations of Immortality”

In a letter written in 1814, Wordsworth referring to ” Intimation to Immortality’ ode wrote the following to clear his stand on the poem:

The poem rests entirely upon two recollections of childhood, one that of a splendure in the objects of sense which is passed away and the other an indisposition to bend to the law of death […]

[(Quoted in) Durant]

In a later comment, Wordswoth states that for a child, the world seems more vivid and has a strange charm, which an adult is unable to view. Wordsworth through his recollections tried to revisit that wonderland which he was more real for him than the present real world and it is on this recollection the Ode is based upon. Along with it Wordsworth has used many theories and myths regarding human existence. But it is sufficient to say that “From this starting point, the poem examines the whole story of humanlife as an excile from an earlier and more perfect state’ (Durant)

The primary point that the man lives in “less than perfect condition’, has been interpreted in various myths, one of which (and of course the most popular) is the myth regarding adam and eve in Bible. “This story tells us how through the eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, man first knows pain, guilt and anxiety’ (Durant).The Greek myth about Pandora’s box also narrates how the opening of the box by two children brought sorrows into the world.

Ancient philosophy also supported this myth indirectly. Plato’s adaption of Pythagorian theory states that the soul originally resides in the supernal region of the pure idea and when the soul is born, it enters into the “dark prison house’ of this world by losing its memory and thus goes farthest from heaven.

Though Wordsworth used this myth in his poem he doesn’t advance the argument in its favour. In Durant’s words: “The poem makes use of the myth of pre-existence, but this is not what the poem “means’ ‘ (Durant).

He more over adds that “In one sense the meaning of the poem is simple. The poet raises the question of the value of life itself, once the primal joy experienced in childhood gone by […] The first four stanzas are given to a statement of the sense of loss felt by the poet when as an adult he can no longer experience the unity of being and sense of illumination he remembers from his childhood’ (Durant).

In the first stanza he writes “There was a time’, referring to his childhood, when “the meadow, grove and stream, / The earth and every common sight’—- seemed to him in “celestial light’ which he “now can see no more’. This stanza infact describes poet’s lamentation (at least a kind of ) on not being able to see any more the “glory and the freshness of a dream’ that his childhood had.

Echoing What he said in the first stanza, Wordswoth writes in the second one that wherever he goes he knows “That there hath past away a glory from the earth’. The tone becomes more sad in stanza three and here the poet confess it in the line: “To me alone there came a thought of grief’ — and also provides the clue to the cause of writing this poem: “A finely utterance gave that thought relief’.

(c) 2005,  Samir K. Dash

Re-visiting Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria

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For Wordsworth, the justification of poetic meters had proved a particularly troublesome problem, because, although the natural language of feeling may be broadly rhythmical, the highly regular stress and stanza patterns would seem a matter not of nature, but of artifice and convention. Moreover he was not clear on the question of how a poem as an individual work of literary art differs from other forms of expression. Thus the old problem of the relation of ‘form’ and ‘content’ was still unresolved. In attempting to remedy this defect in Wordsworth’s argument, Coleridge put the philosophical inquiry into the nature and value of poetry on an entirely new footing. In fact Coleridge is the first English critic to base his literary criticism on philosophical principles. Coleridge conducted his argument in an elaborate and ambitiously conceived chain of reasoning which embraced all his general philosophical principles.

In the beginning of Chapter XIV is the Coleridge’s attempt of differentiating qualities of poetry and the raison d’être of these different qualities. His philosophy begins by making just distinctions and end by discovering how these distinguished characteristics form a unity among themselves.

How does a poem differ from other ways of handling language? What is the point its so differing? How are these points of difference justified by the function and nature of a poem? This is what might be called the ontological approach. And Coleridge uses this ontological approach by defining a poem as a means to an ‘object’, ‘purpose’ or ‘end’.

A poem according to Coleridge contains the same elements as a prose composition. Both use words. The difference between a poem and a prose composition cannot then lie in the medium, for each employs the same medium i.e. words. It must therefore “consist in a different combination of them, in consequent of a different object being proposed”.

A poem combines words differently, because it is seeking to do something different. Of course, all it may be seeking to do may be to facilitate memory. One may take a piece of prose and cast it into rhymed and metrical form in order to remember it better, as in the following verses on the number of days in the months —  “Thirty days hath September/ April, June and November”  etc.

And as a particular pleasure is found in anticipating the recurrence of sounds and quantities, all compositions that have this charm super added, whatever be their contents may be entitled as poem. But in such cases object proposed – facility to memory is served by the mere addition of meter and rhyme. Their use is not necessitated by anything in the content or matter of the poem. There is no natural relation between the two.

So, is there anything in the content of a poem that can necessitate its expression in the metrical form? As the content is determined by object the question is ultimately one of the difference between the objects and the difference ways of writing – “Scientific” and “Poetic”:

“A poem is that species of composition which is opposed to works of science, by proposing for its immediate object pleasure, not truth”

Each of scientific and poetic writing has an immediate object and ultimate object. Science has truth and poetic writing has pleasure as its immediate end. Yet science may have some profound pleasure and poetry may have some profound truth as their ultimate objective.

But as it is immediate object of poetry to produce pleasure and meter conduces it, poetry prefers it to the language of prose.

These conditions are that it should suit the language of content of the poem and not be a mere super addition for ornament’s sake or to facilitate memory.

So, from this Coleridge proceeds to make a definition of what he calls “a legitimate poem”. According to him a legitimate poem is the one where each point (content and super added forms) contribute and must support each other to explain each other. This is what refers to Coleridge’s concept of “Organic Unity”. He believes that as a legitimate poem the objective (to produce pleasure) is carried out with the remaining part preserved.

One point to note that unlike Sidney and some of other critics, Coleridge is not discussing about imaginative literature in general, but about poems. Does that mean Coleridge’s view of what is true to poem is not related to other forms of literature? Does Coleridge’s notion  is restricted to ‘legitimate poem’ and not to other literature or writing that are different from science or history?

The clue to this lies in the distinction he proceeds to make immediately after his definition of a legitimate poem. It is the distinction, he made between a “poem” and “poetry”.

But, many critics have been puzzled by the argument Coleridge provides in this distinction. Shaw Cross in his standard edition of Biographia comments “It is doubtful wheather the distinction [between poem and poetry] […] makes for any clearness”.

Such comments are made by many , because “Coleridge gives no real justification of the old statement of a poem of any length, neither can be or ought to be all poetry”. Poetry for Coleridge is a wider category than that of a poem, i.e. poetry is a kind of activity which can be engaged in painters or philosophers or scientists and is not confined to those who employ metrical language, or even to those who employ language of any kind. Poetry in this larger sense, brings “the whole soul of man” into activity, with each faculty playing its proper part according to its relative worth and dignity. This takes place whenever the “Secondary imagination” comes into operation.

In other words, whenever synthesizing, the integrating powers what Coleridge calls the “Secondary imagination” are at work, bringing all aspects of a subject into a complex unity, then poetry in this larger sense results.

Poetry in the narrower sense – that is a poem – may well use the same elements of as a work of poetry in this larger sense , but it differs from the work of poetry in the larger sense by combining its elements in a different objects being proposed. That different object is immediate pleasure. But since a poem is also a poetry, the communication of pleasure may be its end, but not poetry’s whole function. Poem is distinguished from other art (whose communication end is immediate pleasure) due to the fact that it uses language as its medium.

 (c) Samir K. Dash, 30 April 2010.

Have mercy on White Things


‘Have mercy on White Things’ is a poem on violence and killing…how man has lost his heart in the hollow way of living. Though I had written this poem few years back, still it’s  Eliotian perception applys to today’s Iraq and Afghanistan war zones. (The image at the right  is a digital montage I made few weeks ago )


have mercy on white things (poem)


Poem in text format given below :




Autumn leaves floating

on the voiced wind

spreading over the grey canvas.


 A naked tree

like a skeleton standing on the middle

with a texture of dark

and its last crumpled leaf

— lonely !


Dark is not all — there is ‘white’

a dying swan upon the dry earth

waiting for the last blow

from the metal barrel

like thousand others,

who left their body, to serve the barrel headed

who move over the cracked land

to quench their thirst, with blood.


More white spots flew to the East

more of life, has entered the torture land

to fall upon the stone claws that

shove out from the desert bottom. . .


But life never stops

and the birds never stop,

in this hollow land

nothing ever stops !


Have mercy on White Things (c)  2007, Samir K. Dash

All Rights Reserved. No part of the above poem(s) can be published any where in any form (electronic or non-electronic ), with out the written permission of author. However you can direct yours links to this page in your websites.


Poet Jayanta Mahapatra bags Padma-Shree Award

Yesterday with Rabi-bhai(Rabindra Swain) I went to Tinkonia Bagicha, Cuttack to meet Jayanta Mahapatra for a video interview. The poet was happy to gave us the permission for the interview. Back home I was watching news on TV and there came the good news — Jayanta Mahapatra’s name is in the list of most prestigious PadmaShree Award by India Government.

PadmaShree Award is an award given by the Government of India generally to Indian citizens to recognize their distinguished contribution in various spheres of activity including the Arts, Education, Industry, Literature, Science, Sports, Social Service and public life. (The word “Padma” (Sanskrit) means “Lotus”.)It stands fourth in the hierarchy of civilian awards after the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan.