By Thomas Riggs
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The forty four tales of "Dreams of a robotic Dancing Bee"--Long-awaited by way of lovers of Tate's poetry-will come as a welcome shock to readers unexpected together with his prior paintings. Tate turns out either awed and bemused through small city lifestyles, with its legends, flights of fancy, heightened feelings, tragedies and small ruptures within the textile of standard lifestyles.
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Tucson, Arizona, Sun/Gemini Press, 1987. A Nostalgist’s Map of America. New York, Norton, 1991. Critical Studies: ‘‘The Sorrows of a Broken Time’’ by Emmanuel Nelson, in Reworlding: Writers of the Indian Diaspora, Westport, Greenwood Press, 1993; in Indian Literature, 145(5), September 1991; by Neile Graham, in Poet Lore, 87(1), spring 1992; by Sudeep Sen, in Poetry Review, 83(1), spring 1993. Agha Shahid Ali comments: My poetry has all along revealed a triple heritage (through certain historical permutations, of course), of which I have only in the past few years become truly conscious: Hindu, Muslim, and Western.
Bones are symbolic of a now dead world that will not reply to his interest. ’’ In Memory of Begum Akhtar focuses on the old Delhi of the Mughals. There is an elegiac feeling of a rich but lost past. The great singers of the past become symbols for a history Ali cannot live as he attempts to ﬁnd links and continuity with his origins. L. Saigal’’ is celebrated as such a link: ‘‘Nostalgic for my father’s youth, / I make you return / his wasted generation . . ’’ In the title poem the elegy for the great singer Begum Akhtar has the concise, oblique, lyrical qualities and the music and pattern of the oriental ghazel: 19 ALI feelings are expressed parabolically, statements are left standing on their own, and the poem feels like a song made up of lyric phrases.
Again the calm, oblique style gives a shocking punch to the poem. The love poems in this volume are, to say the least, astringent. ‘‘Advice to a Discarded Lover’’ begins by describing a bird’s corpse and then goes on to warn the lover that ‘‘. . in you / I see maggots close to the surface. You are eaten up by self-pity, / Crawling with unloveable pathos . . ’’ Relationships get equally short shrift in Adcock’s next volume, High Tide in the Garden, where ‘‘Against Coupling’’ begins, I write in praise of the solitary act: of not feeling a trespassing tongue forced into one’s mouth .