Of life and nature 
Reviewed by Ramesh Luthra

The Dreaming House
by Tanya Mendonsa.
Pages 136. Rs 299.

THIS anthology is a beautiful bouquet of poems in alluring hues and shades. It displays a mind that is quite mature, spiritually inclined and extremely in love with the soil, rivers, sounds of birds and colours of flowers. Rightly can the collection be termed as "a journey both spiritual and geographical".

In the first section, Voyage Out, Tanya Mendonsa focuses on "the transition from childhood to maturity, people, wars both historical and internal". Lush green countryside enriches the second section, The Country Beyond, and leaves a mesmerising effect on the reader, hence two facets of her poetry come out vividly before us.

An undercurrent of deep and lofty thoughts runs through many poems. The Matrix is highly admirable in this respect: "But all roads lead to the Centre". She pays a tribute to a few "who live by the truth and who build on it". Natural surroundings awaken philosophical thoughts within the writer. In The Rose Knows, a great truth of life is unravelled, "to embrace the living moment `85 with dying breath / exhaling ecstasy". In Above, the flight of swallows in the sky impresses her with "Their airy motion, in effortless unison, / is a pattern of perfection that fills the vision of the earthbound `85 ." Beautifully she comments, "If the soul could follow the eye / the light of our lives would be other".

A touch of mysticism runs through The Delectable Blue Mountains and The Pomegranate and Persephone which are very thought-provoking poems. "One day you open your mind / to that country / as you open your eyes in the morning / and, / suddenly, / taste / butter melting on your tongue". Such depth of mind expressed in an endearing manner one comes across rarely.

Like T.S. Eliot, the thought of loneliness of modern 1ife haunts the writer so much so that the doorbell needs to be pressed to hear some sound (The Sea of Loneliness). Alone in the Jungle, "He was only lonely. But then, so was I; only he never knew that we were kin in the desert of night `85" brings alive before us loneliness and boredom of modern times.

Mendonsa’s inborn love for nature runs through here veins. Nature with its lush green beauty, especially her village Moira in Goa and its enchanting surroundings, is her first love. In The River Runs, she is fascinated by the river with its "tapesteried meadows/stitched by dragonflies". She is enamoured with jasmine flowers, "starry clusters of wild jasmine like young girls in white dresses" (The Glossy Jasmine Girls). Discontentment with city life is revealed in Lost in Translation, while Divorced from Green talks about materialism which is leading us fast to a hapless and disastrous state, "The feet meet cement, / and are forever divorced from green".

Mendonsa’s poetry exhales an air of rain-soaked fields laced with flowers which the "city" is deprived of. Her love for rain-washed fields overflows I say Goodbye to the Rain, "that the rain has given me: / watered my spirit, / fertilised my earth `85 . . One virtually feels that the rain lives in the countryside. There is a rare imaginative quality about her poetry. We find an individual approach to verse marked by intensity of feeling that is joyous as well as focuses on loss, for example, in Moon Struck, "The Moon has swallowed me whole / clad in liquid mercury".

The rhyme scheme as well as charming imagery like "fogs of sleep come and go" are a treat to the reader. The reviewer is yet to come across a more cinematic picture than that of the butterflies in Psyche. There is bewitching description in The Queen’s Bath, too, "her underskirt floating around her / like a corolla / that is reflected in the full moon above." Such sweep of imagination and rhyme scheme carry the reader along with and leave a deep imprint on him. Her passion for nature and rain-soaked poetry impel one read the collection at one go. Even if your bookshelf is already crumbling under the pressure of your collection of good ones, do remember to adorn it with this anthology of unforgettable poems.