Rukhaya M.K

A Literary Companion

Poetry Analysis: R. Parthasarathy’s “From Trial”

The poet Parthasarathy asserts that as he is mortal, he faces the end as he is living an already deadened existence that has to be only terminated. He is enduring the ‘trial of existence.’ It is done with a relief that cannot be expressed in words. He is, however, very much aware of how he feels. If he were stopped and cut off, and were to clutch at air and straw, if he gets hold of nothing in his extremity in the desperation to make some mark in the rat race.

The statement ’Love, I haven’t the key’ may have two implications. The word ‘key’ may signify ‘clue’. It also stands for the key to unlock His gates. The word ‘His’ refers to God since it capitalized. The poet sees love as the key to redemption and attainment of God’s grace. He grasps his companion’s hand in a rainbow touch. The rainbow encompasses seven colours, and seven is a number generally ascribed to divinity. Of the dead, like other mortal beings he speaks nothing but good; as is the custom in the mortal world as opposed to the situation when the beings are living.

The poet ruminates over the family-album, the other night as he shared his beloved’s child hood. He shares her childhood through the pictures in the family-album. Her unruly hair was symbolic of her wild self that was silenced by bob pins (discipline), and ribbons (rules and regulations that kept her bound to her place). She stood before the mirror her eyes half-shut as a ripple of arms went around Suneeti’s neck. The word ripple suggests her soft and supple hands. The picture had been shot somewhere in the vicinity of the Taj ‘squatting’ as though it was a witness to history. School was to her a pretty kettle of fish because though she was fed spoonfuls of English, and she was never satisfied by the same. Further, she longed for more. She grew up listening enthusiastically to the cook’s delicious folktales ‘hand on chin’. The word hand on chin portrays her involvement. She thrived in a world of fairy tales and could not accept reality much when her father died one afternoon, and she rolls herself into a ball. She was all to herself. Only time unfurled her again: healed all her wounds.

into a ball the afternoon Father died,
till time unfurled you
like a peal of bells. How your face

bronzed, as flesh and bone struck
a touchwood day. Purged,
you turned the corner in a child’s steps.

Her face that was hitherto bronzed turned gold on a touchwood day that assessed the same. She who was an alloy of childhood and girlishness, one day turned a woman on the defining day as she matured. That day she turned a corner in a child’s steps: it was a turning point in her life.


‘It is night alone that makes everything lucid or comprehensible’. The statement is paradoxical as it is night that hinders one’s vision. However, here the poet refers to the nakedness and privacy offered to the poet by the time. This is why it provides a ‘lucid exclusiveness’. Her singular form had been affected by Time’s harsh light that is harsh because it is dimmed now, and does make recognition possible, but not very clear to highlight her singular figure. As the light gets more dimmed, the lens is opaque that they cannot see each other through the sense of sight but only through the sense of touch. ‘Focus’ is a word used in connection with sight but here it is utilized in connection with touch.therefore, it serves as an instance of synesthesia. “Touch bring the body into focus, /restores colour to inert hands.” The words like lens and focus imply how the moment is captured by the camera of memory. It restores colour to inert(neutral hands). It renders a life that was hitherto black-and-white colourful. The skin takes over next, then it dominates.

Angularities or outlines blur as two bodies become one. As they delve into ecstasy, material existence becomes very light; the four walls appear to revolve turning on a strand of hair. M. Sivaramakrishna talks of R.Parthasarathy’s commitment to the visual, to objections and concretions that account for some of the finest poetry written by him. It is meticulously chiseled an array of visuals, almost without an equal in Indo-Anglian poetry. Parthasarathy believes that what cannot be images or seen with the eyes cannot be said to have been really experienced. V.A..Shahane states that in images of rare beauty,sharp sensitivity and clock-like precision R.Parthsarathy articulates his sense of ‘lucid exclusiveness’.

The beloved knocks at the poet’s door and enters the room. She undresses quietly before the mirror of his hands. His hands are not only a tool to him, but also an instrument to the beloved to regard her own worth . Ripe with desire, his eyes seem to dilate or get drowned in the skull as flesh is hardened to stone. The poet probably refers to the hardening of the phallus, ripe with desire. The past is compared to an umbrella that shielded him. The reference here is to experience that is the greatest teacher. Now it is put aside as now only the present rules for the poet. The touch of her breasts is ripe in her eyes. They obliterate his eyes probably because it bedazzles him.

Also, now, the distance between them is so little that he cannot see her through ‘sight’ but only through touch’. Her breasts are termed as tight parabolas of gold due to their symmetry, shape, glow and the fixed distance from the poet’s point of focus. He celebrates or commemorates her, as he draws the sweet essence of her flesh towards him. He draws it from her depths as he would draw water from a well. The taste of her flesh is as delicious as it would have been on the night of 21st of December. The Capricorn man is said to be easily aroused by sex.

It is two’ O clock in the morning and the poet’s thoughts turn to his beloved. With lamp and pen, he blows the dust off his past. Writing has had a therapeutic effect on the writer. This is why it allows him to forget his past. Dust is also a symbol of stagnation and writing gives the poet an outlet to express his feelings and avoid stagnation. He asks his beloved to assess him after thirty years of his life, now a small hand helps in getting rid of the futility of existence and provides his life with a ray of hope.

V.A.Shane mentions how the images of the body and physical pleasure are here curiously juxtaposed with the images of approaching middle age and the shadow of death and despair. The image of eyes submerging in the skull, and the image of flesh solidifying in stone are rather extraordinary in a poem of love. Particularly ironic is the contextual connection between this kind of dismal visual setting and the sensuously evocative moments of experience…The plot relegates to the background his psychic past like an over worn umbrella put in a corner of the room.


The August heat was immense and the stars feel as though their temperature had reached a boiling point. His beloved asked him something about constellations and he feels as though her hand itself was a galaxy. The difference between constellation and galaxy is that the former is imaginary and the latter real. Therefore, the poet tells his beloved that her hand was real and existed as opposed to the constellation. He imparts her existence with truth value as it was something that was within his reach, and therefore existed. The phrase ’in the sand’ again connotes that it was earthly and therefore real. It was the flight of human imagination that produce such imaginative flights of fancy, and arrested them with the help of human ways of expression. The speaker on the other hand longs to celebrate something real, perishable and commonplace just because it is there, like their love:“Something so perishable, trite.”

© Rukhaya MK 2013

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks…rukhaya..this was very helpful.
    Keep up the good work.

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