A Little Night Music: Ruskin Bond

On a rather distressing day while I was grappling with tax troubles, travel plans and several such irritants, A Little Night Music – a collection of verse by Ruskin Bond arrived on my desk. Seeking distraction more than reprieve, I did a quick look through and chanced upon one of the most delightful poems I have ever read: All is Life.

Perhaps it was how I was feeling then. Perhaps it was that there was a world of wisdom in that short poem. Perhaps it was the innate compassion that shone through...All poetry is subjective and it seemed as though the words spoke to me. Me alone.

Be kind, my friend.
Hold on, in times of pain and strife;
Until death comes, all is life....

Ruskin Bond’s first collection of poetry, all written by the author-poet in the course of this year is a combination of light verse for both adults and children. While all may not sparkle with the luminosity of All is Life or Don’t be Afraid of the Dark or even The Phantom Lover, there are also some remarkable poems with marvellous comic timing.
Take Do you believe in ghosts? :

“Do you believe in ghosts?”
Asked the passenger
On platform number three.
‘I am a rational man,’ said I
‘I believe in what I can see –
Your hands, your feet, your beard!’
‘Then look again,’ said he,
And promptly disappeared!

Unpretentious yet accomplished and suffused with a yearning for times gone by, Ruskin Bond’s verse is very much like his prose and as I read the poems, I couldn’t help thinking of the man with his wide smile and impish glint in his eyes and an ability to use an old fashioned word like ‘tiddly ‘with a certain inimitable style... That much forgotten art of delicate irony.

In fact, the only poems that I didn’t care for were the ones where Bond had attempted social commentary. But what makes poetry collections interesting is this personal sorting of preferences.

For all those people who say- But I don’t understand poetry -, A Little Night Music is a perfect book of verse to cut your poetic teeth upon.

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