Book Review: Musings of a Romantic by Shankar Kashyap

Rating: 4/5

After composing beautiful pieces on love and longing in various poetic forms in Lady in Red, it was obvious that Shankar Kashyap would continue to amaze us with his eloquence. Musings of a Romantic features an exquisite collection of poems on love, humanity, and the river Sarasvati (the poet’s favourite river) and the book is structured to include some of the most common poetic forms used around the world.

An informative introduction gives us a detailed history of poetry writing right from its oral beginnings. The poems are categorized on the basis of the poetic form used to compose them and several new forms have been employed—gnomic verse, sestina, palinode, kyrielle, monody, and rispetto, to name a few. Kashyap includes a brief description of each form to help acquaint readers with its intricacies. He also helps us understand the composition better with a short write-up about it.

It is fascinating to see the sheer amount of research that has gone into this collection. Kashyap is not only a gifted poet, but a thorough researcher as well. An appendix dealing with poetic formats, metric structure, and other aspects of poetry is included in the book.

This is how this collection of poems is different from the usual poetry anthologies. Not only does it include poems composed by the author, it also contains detailed information about the history of poetry and each poetic form employed along with a famous poem that exemplifies the form.

“Poison” and “Life” in gnomic verse are particularly interesting compositions that were thought-provoking. I could relate to “The digital city” very well since I have lived in the city for many years. I felt the pain in “A Friend is Forever” and the glory of a long-lost empire in “Tribute to a Golden Empire.”

My favourite composition is “The Leader,” a pithy poem about two-faced politicians. It is a “chastushka,” just four lines, but it conveys a wealth of meaning.

I hope you enjoy reading this book just as much as I have.


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