skip to Main Content
A K Ramanujan: Collected Poems (Oxford) – Review

A K Ramanujan: Collected Poems (Oxford) – Review

In the Sphere:
Reading poetry is comforting. It is certainly a respite from the usual affairs of life that generates boredom, troubles and intellectual isolation. To move towards one’s inner self and the questions of life that are beyond worldly elements, poetry may become a very important tool. I have read many poetry books by many poets from India and other countries and in Hindi, English and Sanskrit languages. To be frank, the force of communication and impact of narrative that comes out in Sanskrit and Hindi seldom comes in English poetry by Indians. Nevertheless, there are the poets who make an impact with their English poetry on their Indian audience. And, any day, A. K. Ramanujan must be counted as a forerunner in this context. Today I will be reviewing his ‘Collected Poems’ published by Oxford India Paperbacks (OUP). My name is Aditya Shankar and here is my review of Ramanujan’s poetry collection for The Last Critic.
[vcex_divider_dots color=”#dd3333″ margin_top=”10″ margin_bottom=”10″]

The Book:
In the preface, Krittika Ramanujan writes that A. K. Ramanujan thought of his poems like babies as they often dirtied themselves and needed to be cleaned up. Ramanujan worked on the set of his poems for about 10 years (and more at times) – such long! It shows that he was a dedicated poet who considered that output MUST be significant in order to create some kind of impact upon the readers.

Vinay Dharwadker begins with a splendid introduction to Ramanujan’s poetry in his brilliantly-written introduction to this collection of poems. He begins and ends an idea that Ramanujan was (as a poet) and I am sure that any reader can enjoy reading it and learn at the same time. He veers into several narrow lanes where Ramanujan’s wanderer pen takes him and bham-opens several closed doors from where the light of perspectives can enter and enlighten the readers with several viewpoints on the poetical prowess of A. K. Ramanujan.
[vcex_divider_dots color=”#dd3333″ margin_top=”10″ margin_bottom=”10″]

This collection consists of four of A. K. Ramanujan’s brilliant poetry publications – The Striders (1966), Relations (1971), Second Sight (1986) and The Black Hen (1995). And to critically comment on the quality of Ramanujan’s poems, there does not remain much to be commented as the editors have done their job by placing the best publications in the best order. Logically, the one at the beginning is the early creation by Ramanujan and it resembles much of his thoughts that were evolving with time. He writes, in The Striders, much about his childhood, early days, family members, general thoughts and things in that circle. The poem Christmas remembers the days when the poet used to enjoy Christmas as a child and also how it used to be different. In many of the poems, Ramanujan gets into the reminiscence of the past and at times, gets lost too. 

The second and the third collection, the poet often compares ‘there and here,’ ‘now and then,’ ‘what and if,’ and so many other forms of possible comparisons between one thing and another (or the ideas). It might get boring with time if you are not a serious reader of poetry with patience in proper proportions. In poems like August, the poet enters into the family issues. In poems like Fog and One More on a Deathless Theme, the poet enters into the productive melancholy and muses over death, life and physical assembling that imprisons our soul. Almost all poets do that – sooner or later.
[vcex_divider_dots color=”#dd3333″ margin_top=”10″ margin_bottom=”10″]

The Conclusion:
To cut short, A. K. Ramanujan’s poetry resembles Indian roots, Indian quest and an Indian upbringing most of the time. He does reflect his Western and Christian influence, though. However, most of the times, his poems become a perfect embodiment of the idea called Indianness in Indian English Poetry. If you are a student of Indian English literature, you will certainly love reading these poems and entering into the subconsciously conscious unconscious of the poet that A. K. Ramanujan is… All the best for your read! 

You can get a copy of this collection of A. K. Ramanujan’s poems published by Oxford University Press by clicking the link to Amazon below. 

Buy the book – click here – Amazon India website 

review by Aditya Shankar for The Last Critic 

A K Ramanujan: Collected Poems

323 Rs



Narrative & Diction


TLC Literary Quotient


TLC Literary Contribution


TLC Reading Interest


TLC Approves

  • Vivid Themes
  • Indian Influence
  • Literary Depth

TLC Disapproves

  • Uninteresting at times
  • Too personal at times and it lacks objectivity then
Post Series: Indian English Poetry
  • 1.A K Ramanujan: Collected Poems (Oxford) – Review
This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top
×Close search