Ismail Aashna is a versatile poet. He writes poetry with tradition in the marrow of his bones; for him time is indivisible. He has the sense of presentness of the past and pastness in the present, for him there is continuity in change and change in continuity. There is no doubt about the fact that Aashna’s poetry is genuinely modern. He seems fully conscious of his responsibilities as a modern poet. Poetry, modern or old, must be as pure as pure honey. The adulteration of any kind is not acceptable to him, it is like 24 Carat Gold. His poetry is simultaneously true of beautiful. His poetry is true that is why it is beautiful. It is beautiful that is why true. He knows how to extend, deepen and widen the tradition. In the beginning of his 1st collection of Kashmiri poetry Asi-Tug-Na-Dazun, he seems appearing with his literary manifest.
He himslef describes that ‘I didn’t distance myself from the fascinating tradition of poetry and literature. I went nearer to it and delved deeper into its genius in consequence modern sensibility is mingled in separable with the tradition in poetry. I have tried to penetrate the deep of dark woods of the collective unconscious and assimilate the tumults of countless generation in my work. I have particularly tried to accommodate those archetypes which lie submerged in the oceans of Kashmir culture and civilization. How far I have succeeded in this venture is for my readers to decide.’
Aashna’s fulfils his commitment and comes up to the mark. Prof G.R Malik writes that Ashna’s poetry vibrates with the metaphorical use of language that never appears to be labored. Reading of his poems justifies his confidence in that tradition runs like life blood in his poetry. Aashna is a poet and knows how to swallow fire and turn it into gold through artistic alchemy. Aashna is the poet of collective unconscious. He uses archetypes drawn from the collective unconscious of Kashmiri civilization. Aashna for example uses the characters of grand father and mother as archetypes to express universal experiences it seems that he is not alone or only an individual poet. On the contrary he appears as the representative of generation through genetic such experiences and the use of archetypes make him unique in the tradition of Kashmiri literature. Extracts from his poems are given below to show how he uses like a consummate artist.
Children dancing around a bone fire filling in cupped hands/ burning coals into grandma’s fire pot/ who sits at the casement/ donning the headgear mother on the threshold/ humming a tone /distant old and dear/ mother in the dark kitchen /counts not her inmates nor does grandma/ search for the lost needles of her torn headgear /
Ismail Ashna’s poetry tends to develop towards symbolism. Already there are certain images, writes G.R Malik, which repeat themselves and go on gathering new layers of signification around them, for instance, is his presentation of silence as biting viper. Night as an inscrutable reservoir, lightening as an elemental force representing destiny and rebellion, the crow as harbinger of encoded messages rain and snow as indicative of vitality and revival and the spark and the palm, as the expression of in most of the existence. Aashna uses suitable fresh and new unique images. He weaves them into wonderful patterns to objectify his experience and share them with his readers while reading his poetry one feels like passing through dense woods of images examples are given below.
In the dense woods of unfathomable ages/ among thousands of wicked paths/ inter twined like the lines on my desert like forehead/. I search for the lost path of my destiny/ mirror like hanging/ from the battered wall /shall I wait in the dark dewy nights/ under the torn canopy of frozen stairs skies/ till I radiate you /o dawn in every fragment/ appearing in golden ropes/ from behind the barricaded mountains or at about mid night/ in the light of lightening/ accompanied by torrential rains the storm hawk like/ pounce on my dwelling/ scatters roof’s /smashes doors /cracks windows /break stairs/ and barges into every room tearing down portraits of ancestors unknown./
Aashna’s poetry is full of pathos rising from the depths of his soul but there is not even a single words, a single poem a single images of disappointment. Today or tomorrow the life shall flew from the depths of eyes/ hope shall spread its wings of desolate lips/ the wicked walls shall fall dawn the foot prints shall kindle the paths /from everywhere in the hollow of trees /shall sing the birds/ the deer shall again dance/ around deodars/ avalanches shall plunge into furious rivers/ the bewitching bushes shall experience thaw/ the pigeons shall fly again in the blue skies/.
Today or tomorrow the lightening/ shall set the clouds ablaze /frozen eyes shall squeeze again warmth/ in every courtyard shall dance the flames/ the moon garbed as shepherds daughter with Heena dyed hands loosed hair/ shall return from the pastures/ the sun shall climb crawling /the dark mountains of destinies to unravel mysteries.
Such images deep and dynamic, breathing pulsating, and moving images accompany the readers everywhere. These omnipresent images objectify his otherwise invisible experience and ambiguities. There are Kashmiri poets who have drawn images and experience from European civilization though they never have experienced the experiences of European sensibility and never can. Aashna is a responsible and honest poet who has never borrowed any images archetypes and experience from European civilization instead it appears from the reading of his poetry that he does not remain always integrally related with any other civilizations than the civilization of Kashmir. Aashna is organically associated with the tradition of Kashmiri language and literature. Aashna’s every poetic experience is organic and his every verse every poem is a synthesis. Which has been expressed in federative and metaphorical language his experience not only tend to find expression in vibrating metaphorical language roaming with an all pervasive ensue put points to the symbolic reach to the poet which is a hall mark of all his poems. On one hand Ashna is inseparably associated with the tradition on the other his poetry is immersed in modern sensibility. He knows like some of his contemporary poets that being in 21th century in spite of everything his poetry must breath the fragrance of modern sensibility. His poems are in a way wonders of poetry they are organic wholes like living organism. The poems have been built mystically or woven magically or envisioned spontaneously it appears that the poet might have said, “happen and they must have happened within the twinkling of an eye there is harmony melody and architectural beauty in them if poetry does not possess architectural harmony. It can’t be the poetry of higher order and if the architecture does not have sublimity of pure poetry it can’t be architecture. They possess the words of meaning within themselves every poem is a synthesis and organic whole breathing pulsating and pulsing and vibrating like a living organism they no doubt are the creation of the transcendental reason the shorter poems are so complete that nothing more can be added to them; the longer poems are so superbly created as organic wholes that nothing can be taken away from them. The diction and the texture of his poems are irreplaceable, so soft and velvety. One can safely feel and say that the robes of his poems have been woven as if on magic looms with divine hands they are simply indefinable in words such poetry as thus refuses to be translated Ashina poetry is the expression of the individual subconscious together with collective unconscious through genetic the poet believes that he is not only an individual but the representative of generation of four fathers his poetry is therefore the expression of thousands of generation. One of the most attractive features of Ashina’s poetry is interaction with mystery. The experiences of mystery in his poetry are reintensified when the themes of destiny appear with their overwhelming omnipresence. At higher or deeper levels his poetry is imbued with the tragic sense which is the essence of human life everywhere like it appears in Greek tragedies.
G R Malik writes that the real poetic power of Aashna’s poems issues from their reaching out beyond themselves into other realms.
There is a time, my mates
When the ecstatically gushing spring
Runs suddenly dry
And a time,
When a spring bursts singing
On a mountain top
Come dear; let us light the lamps of our own heart,
Who can bring down heavens moon and stars?
Khushboo Ramzan Bhat is a scholar DB university, Chandigarh