SINGH, TARA (1928/29-)Singh, Tara, also known as Tara Singh Kamil, was born in Hookran district of Hoshiarpur, Punjab. He now lives in Delhi and is engaged in journalism. Singh began his literary career as a poet of light, witty and humorous pieces which became instantly popular at \’Kavi Darbars\’. He moved on to serious poetry and has now published six volumes of writings. He has translated eighteen books from Hindi and Urdu into Punjabi and vice-versa, and has authored one volume of prose.
His poems, characterised by a style that is simple, elegant, expressive and spontaneous, have charmed a wide range of readers for over three decades. Kahikashan, selected for this year\’s Sahitya Akademi Award in Punjabi, is a collection of poems remarkable both for their fluidity of form and for profundity of thought and feeling. For its universality of appeal, its evocative use of symbol and imagery, its concern with life in all its fullness, this book is considered an invaluable contribution to Punjabi literature. Tara Singh is comparatively unaffected by both the progressive and the experimental creeds.
When his First collection Simmade Pather (Oozing Stones) was published in 1956, the era of progressive poetry was nearing its end. The romantic creed too had been left behind. Therefore he had a voice of his own. Unlike the progressive poets, he did not want to merge or expand his personal sorrow into the misery of the people. He kept the two apart as parallel streams. He writes: There is the grief over one\’s friend. Which makes the heart dissolve moment by movement. And then there is the grief of labour Which is not valued by the market.
Similarly, he tells his beloved: The business of the world is going on, too, Along with the preoccupation of your love. Conscious of his non-alignment, even proud of it, he writes: Why should I become a Picasso? My paintings will not bear a brush used by another, New paintings look for a new brush and a new canvas. He uses the extended metaphor in preference to the unitary metaphor of most poetry, traditional or progressive. For instance, about his sentiment of love, he writes: Every moment from every lair of the mind, Flows the tale of my love, As in some places in the mountains, From moist, damp stones, Oozes slowly, lukewarm, soft warm water.
His next collection Meghale (Clouds) 1958 continues the same mood, perhaps with greater refinement. Tara Singh can keep proper balance between feeling and intellect, though sometimes he becomes rather cynical, as when he says: Whenever you and I meet, We are afraid of each other For we know we are going to ask about each other\’s welfare. And sometimes perhaps a kind of sentimentality creeps in, all the same as when he says: 0, my intimate life-mate, Allow me, in your simplicity, To kiss the feet of my child, For there is yet no particle of dirt in its nails. Allow me, 0 my intimate, That the touch of my lips May enjoy the taste of your womb.
There is perhaps a fall-back in his third collection, Asin Tusin (We and You) although here also he knows and accepts the dividing line between his generation and the next, as when he says: 0 people, who will come after us, Accept our congratulations, For a conscious vision of a beautiful world, We who had unrolled ourselves as a carpet under your feet. Tara Singh\’s latest work, Suraj da Letter Box (The Letter-box of the Sun) presents much maturer poetry and in this he takes a position more or less directly opposed to that of the progressive poets. He takes the view that poetry is essentially an expression of intimate personal experience. To make it a vehicle of collective thinking and feeling is to dilute it.
1. Amarjit Singh, Punjabi sahit da itihas ”Qissa kal, Amritsar, 1981.
2. Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature, 6 Vols., Delhi, 1995.
3. Kohli, S.S., Punjabi Sahit da Itihas, Ludhiana, 1955.
4. Mohan Singh, A History of Punjabi Literature, Amritsar, 1956.
5. Sekhon, S.S. and K.S. Duggal, A History of Punjabi Literature, Delhi, 1992.