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The forest comes down at night - Georgi Belev

“Forest” poems have a special place in my heart. I’ve often felt like we’ve come in the way of natural harmony, the circus of survival. As if the city is an unclaimed slipper in the clean hallway of eternity, an apashruti in the natural order of things. Maybe these are the vacant dreams of a city dweller who ocassionaly tastes the manna of green fields, lush undergrowth and pregnant lakes- but the forest is a breathing person, much like the city. Today’s poem reminds me of those masterpieces of personification, when inanimate things acquires meaning, and character - T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock and Preludes. Who can forget those lines which, with loving precision carve out the wisp of smoke that is the yellow fog of a winter evening -

“When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table;… … The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes, Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, …Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, …Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.” There is, also, of course, Kolatkar, who breathes life into plastic pipes, and idlis and pi-dogs, but I digress. Belev’s forest is intimate yet distant, deep yet aloof. What he achieves in this poem, is the sense of being both an outsider, and one who has known the forest like an old friend who comes to chat in the local adda in the evening. I am thrown by the sense of humanity and animal fire that Belev breathes into the dreariness of urban life - the drunks, the houses, the streets and the passersby. Belev’s forest is pristine - a siren, an ascetic. Nature has ventured into the city, incognito, to survey her kingdom, and she turns her nose up at what she sees, dismissing the hackneyed existence of the urban folk. In the voice of the persona in the poem, there is both a sense of deep longing and an admiration for the commanding presence of the forest - the kind of a nostalgia for something that has never been experienced, a deeply human nostalgia. The forest comes down at night…


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