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Preface to ASGAH BHATKAN (limitless QuestS.Harbans Singh,M.A.,P.E.S.(I) Former Registrar,Panjabi University Patiala.
“Give up hope of destination—-
Go on, go on the way without rancour,
Rejoice, dear friend,
That distances are expanding ever;
Receding is hope
Of reaching the goal”
These are some of the most beautiful lines in Bhagwant Singh’s latest collection entitled ASGAH BHATKAN (limitless Quest): lines which are sensitive, eloquent and meaningful . They represent the central theme of his poetry – the distance between desire and realization, between hope and despair, between love and hate. Here is recaptured the true rhythm and conceit of poetry as well as serenity of a philosophic vision .A consciousness of the uncertainty of fulfillment and fragility of human happiness has characterized Bhagwant Singh’s verse from the very beginning . He thus cut out the period of apprenticeship in romantic sentimentalism through which practically all of our Punjabi poets have passed. This is the reason why his poetry looks maturer than his years.
ASGAH BHATKAN , which is Bhagwant Singh’s third collection, marks a significant stage in his own growth to adulthood. He has here achieved greater poise and certitude and a surer control over his medium. Despite the turbulence of the poet’s spirit, this latest verse is remarkable for its restraint of expression and smoothness of rhythm. The sobriety of tone he has attained should be a prelude to still greater achievement.
Bhagwant Singh belongs to none of the schools which dominate Punjabi poetry today. He maintains a genuinely personal and individual tone of voice. Its principal notes are a deeply felt anguish of the soul and an undercurrent of faith and optimism . He does not
let himself be completely, overwhelmed by his sense of suffering and seeks redemption for it in articulation , in song, in creative act. This mystique of the poetic articulation is what separates him from such of his contemporaries as seek refuge in the social act or the absurd. He does not write as if to convey or communicate , but to share an experience . This gives to his work a tonal quality of emotive stress and inner conflict. His expression , though straight forward and matter- of – fact, acquires a sharpness verging occasionally on the satirical . Essentially a poet of cynical sensibility, Bhagwant Singh is refereshingly exempt from cant and frothiness.
Bhagwant Singh’s involvement with his own self may look somewhat morbid , but the experience he seeks to realize has a quality of genuiness. The world of frustration he recreates in his poems is not an unrecognizeable phenomen. This lends to the poet’s vision communicability as well as integrity. ……Dated 1965