Ecological Issues Reflected in the Selected Poems of
K. V. Dominic
Rincy Mol Sebastian
Environmental studies or eco-criticism have stepped up new areas of multidisciplinary inquest and is the soul of recent trends in literary studies. The environmental issues seem to go hand in hand with literature. Literary studies, especially poems have a new attention in contemporary discussion of environmental issues.
Environmental disturbances hang over our heads to remind us of the ecological disaster. Concern for the environmental future is moved to mainstream consciousness through the issues of global warming, deforestation, nuclear issues, pollution, ozone depletion, toxins, waste, exploitation of natural resources, etc. And these problems primarily appear as scientific problems and involve only climatologists, glaciologists rather than poets or critics. But the environmental and ecological studies have opened up in literary scenario. “While literature can reduce nature to a specific ideological or humanistic agenda, it can also represent an alternative kind of human nature relationship facilitating green consciousness and place bonding” (Speek 162).
Dr. K. V. Dominic is always fascinated by the work of nature. His poems spread the environmental consciousness regarding the relationship between God, Man and Nature. P. C. K. Prem, reputed poet, novelist and critic, estimates Dominic’s poetry thus: “The poet avers that his areas of concern are man, nature and God and truthfully this encompasses life in entirety with no derivations” (109).
Some of his poetic works have a special space to address the major environmental problems. He uses poems as a powerful weapon to spread the message about the environmental threat caused by man to nature. The poet reminds his childhood days when there were rains for six months and all the rivers were live and vibrant with water throughout the year. To quote from Dr. Dominic’s paper presented at SAARC Literary festival at Agra: “In summer almost all rivers are dry with little flow of water. Greedy land mafia appropriate government forests with the help of politicians and corrupt bureaucrats and deforest thousands of acres. Similarly, sand mafia mine sands of the rivers, digging them to die” (Dominic, “Kerala: God’s Own Country”).
The present study aims to explore the selected poems from K. V Dominic’s two poetic collections, Winged Reason (2010) and Write Son, Write (2011), which exhibits the major environmental issues.
Prof. Dominic’s first poem “Write My Son, Write” is a message to the entire humanity. Human beings have superior thought of being the finest creation of God and they have the right to destroy animals and nature for their existence. The poet says that God loves all creatures and things in this world and man has no right to exploit both animals and nature. The poet expresses philosophical views in the last part of the poem:
Enough, my son,
to tell your species.
If they heed
they will be saved;
will be saved;
plants will be saved
and the universe
as such will be saved.
(Write Son, Write 37)
The endless agony of God towards man, who is created by God in His own image, is best explained in the poem “I am Just a Mango Tree.” The tree stands like a ‘Himalayan Umbrella’ to give shelter for the students who are ‘Waiting for the buses.’ The tree is very proud of itself because it is the source of fruit, bed and shelter for all creatures. But all the happiness of the tree is thwarted, when it overhears conversation between a boy and a girl:
“Darling, where shall we wait
when they cut this tree?
“Dear, why should they cut this tree,
a cool shelter to countless?”
“They plan to build a waiting shed here.”
(Winged Reason 41)
The tree can’t believe the words of the children so that she asks to God, her creator:
God, what do I hear? Is it true?”
‘True, my daughter, I am helpless.’
Can’t they spare me and
build it somewhere else?
Don’t I do them good as to all?
Don’t I have feeling and pains
though I endure in silence?
Haven’t I the right to live?
(Winged Reason 41)
The heart stricken words of the tree have really opened up the cruel face of human being. She is also the creation of God, she also has feelings and she asks a painful question: “God, why is your man so selfish and cruel?” (Winged Reason 41)
God is totally helpless because he has created man in his own image. He hadn’t thought of this type of a creation in this world. Human beings are creating an endless agony upon their Creator, Father. The poet here generalizes the agony of God to the agony of all fathers. But how can a father kill his sons?
The poet, like a true environmentalist feels that the nature moans only because of the brutal hands of man. Man’s cruel consumption of nature will lead to his own destiny and this is clearly expressed in the poem “Nature Weeps.” Man ill-treated mango tree, paddy fields, flowers and everything around him. Tigers started searching food in villages because “the people killed their preys” (Write Son, Write 71). Even the sun is angry towards man because of the act of cutting trees.
The poet is very keen on expressing minute aspects of man’s cruelty towards all creatures. The sky is covered with the fumes of plastic so that the sound of the cuckoo is changed. The poet could identify the minute change in the sound of the cuckoo because cuckoo is singing for the poet himself. Now cuckoo is not waking him up in the morning because he has no trees to sit on (Write Son, Write 73). The poet brings out the consequences of man’s deeds towards snakes and the improper waste management:
Snakes appear on
roads and lanes:
their havens are furnaces
Mice and rats multiply
and trouble human beings:
man litters food around
(Write Son, Write 73)
The poet reminds us of a major problem that is the scarcity of water, which lays the foundation of our life and “going to be more precious; than gold and diamond” (Write Son, Write 91). “Water, Water, Everywhere . . . , a poem composed on the World Water Day is a very big question focusing towards our near future. Destruction of natural resources, increasing construction, urbanization, etc. is all the pivotal causes for the scarcity of water. Absence of rains will wipe out number of lives. The poet expresses his anguishes:
Lifespan dropped to thirty-five;
thirty five looked eighty-five.
Dehydration caused wrinkles;
smooth skin turned
sore and scaly;
lovely long haired women
appeared shaved-headed ghosts.
(Write Son, Write 91-92)
Water is the panacea of our life, but we get only mineral oil packed in disposable bottles, that also is hazardous for the nature: “heaps of garbage everywhere” (Write Son, Write 92). Flowing water will become a ration and many people will suffer from kidney failure. Extreme climate change and water scarcity will be a vital source to produce a wave of next world war. The poet writes:
at gun point;
armed forces guarded
water reservoirs of nations.
(Write Son, Write 92)
Scarcity of water will leads to anxiety, depression, displeasure, aggression and aversion. The climate change will bring out the danger by restricting our access to the basic needs of our life. The future is very critical in the sense that: “Sea level rose every day; / low lands disappeared / one after another (Write Son, Write 92).
Enormous and unlawful consumption and treatment of natural resources of man has become the real problem behind all natural calamities and scarcity of natural resources. The poet foresees the tragic situation through the poem “God is Helpless,” Even God, the sole creator of the world is helpless when man prays for his mercy to have rain and save their land. The poet gives a clear answer to the doings of man in this poem. God, the merciful Almighty asks many unanswerable questions to the mankind and the poet experiences the helplessness of God.
“I am helpless,
my beloved children.
I did supply
whatever you needed;
The same I gave
to all non-human beings;
I created the earth,
an oasis for men,
animals and plants;”
(Write Son, Write 63)
We, human beings have put an axe on our own branches. We are responsible for cutting all the trees, emitting toxic gases to impure the sky and dig our own grave. Plant and animals can’t live because of the atrocities caused by man towards them. The poet writes:
All complain of;
your cruelty and torture;
they have no food;
they have no water;
they have no shelter;
and not even air
(Write Son, Write 64)
All creatures are pleading to God to call man back otherwise they could not live in this earth. God is totally helpless and it is we who are answerable to all questions. “. . . only if man learns to live in harmony with nature and His creations, he has the possibility of survival; if his exploitation of humanity and nature continues, nothing can save him” (Chambial 178).
A number of movements came into existence to protest against the environmental hazards. Writing poems is a promising mission to make some changes in the minds of the readers. So environmental crisis can be always kept alive through poems and it can be used as a vehicle for social change. Here the poet’s purpose is to convey the inner and outer connection between nature and humanity. The survival of nature and humanity are interdependent. The life of nature enables the life of human beings. Only true lovers of nature like K. V. Dominic can see the reckless exploitation of nature by man. He has opened our eyes to the environmental issues through his poems such as “I am just a Mango Tree,” “Nature Weeps,” “Water, Water Everywhere . . .” and “God is Helpless.” These poems equally manifest pedagogy of environmental alertness. The poet reminds us of our responsibilities towards nature and environment.
Chambial, D. C. “K. V. Dominic--A Humanitarian in Conception and Socio Consciousness: An Analytical Study of Write Son, Write. International Journal of Multicultural Literature 2.2 (July 2012): 177-182. Print.
Dominic, K. V. Winged Reason. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2010. Print.
---. Write Son, Write. New Delhi: Gnosis, 2011. Print.
Dominic, Prof. Dr. K. V. “Kerala: God’s Own Country Turning to Devil’s Own Hell.” SAARC Literary Festival at Grand Hotel, Agra on 11 Mar. 2013. Web. 11 Aug. 2013. Reading.
Prem, P. C. K. “K. V. Dominic’s Winged Reason: Poems of Man’s Earthly Life and Painful Realities.” Labyrinth 2.2 (2011): 104-110. Print.
Speek, Tijo. “Environment in Literature: Lawrence Buell’s Eco-critical Perspective.” 160-171. Web. 16 Aug. 2013. <http://www.eki.ee/km/place/pdf/kp1_18>.
Ms. Rincy Mol Sebastian is PhD Research Scholar at Calicut University, Kozhikode, Kerala, India.