Striking a Chord
readers may either find themselves enthralled by the texture of the language or feel shortchanged by its complicated nature.
The title poem begins with the image of ‘ moving diamonds of the night’. Unlike Rana’s imagery in this image is straightforward and draws on the transition from day and night.
Some of the most enlightening poems in the anthology pertain to the places Rana has visited throughout her life. In her poem on Gilgit, she recreates the scenery of snow-capped mountains and trees. Through a short and crisp poem, Rana explores the story of the beautiful valley. The poem concludes that the city is “a lonely graveyard” even though it is filled with endless beauty. On the other hand, presents a vivid description of the region while Rana’s poem on ‘Afghanistan’ offers a glimpse of the country before the Soviet invasion.
In a candid portrayal of a group of orphans playing in Cambodia, Rana demonstrates the ability to empathize with the children without exaggerating their misery. The author has a tendency to use thought-provoking metaphors to give expression to their suffering. The poem uses the images of a dance to highlight the absence of opportunities available to them. The following verse is a good example of this form of symbolism:
A large number of poems are also built on incidents and observations which are fairly commonplace. In ‘The Toronto underground’, she sums up the experience of travelling on a crowded subway in a simple and effective manner:
On first glance, the poem appears to build on personal experiences rather than the recesses of the imagination. In addition, the poet assumes the role of a participant rather than a dispassionate observer. More often than not, it adds a personal touch and provides an opportunity for aggressive self-description. Rana tries to understand her own fears through the following stanza:
Overall, the poems depict a journey to understand people, places, belief systems and, more importantly, the essence of life. They do not leave the reader with a tall tale which gives them false hope. To the contrary, Rana takes the threads of human emotions and uses them to create a patchwork of realistic ideas.
Greta Rana has described her work as retrospective that “track(s) the sensation of ( her) life”. In the preface, she explains that the written words represent a journey through life. Rana’s poems are driven by life experiences but cemented by powerful observations. The shifting surfaces between past and present are handled with care and used as a means to take the reader on an enlightening spiritual journey. The writer is a poet and author. He is a law graduate of SOAS.