Canadian history starts normally Ã¢â‚¬Å“with the French who came first as fishermen and later as explorers in the sixteenth century and stayed to settle,Ã¢â‚¬Â1 though the Ojibway people have been in North America for centuries before them. The Ojibways are scattered now across Canada and the United States. They probably migrated from the East during the Ice Age, and have developed their own mythologies and culture.
The Ojibway people believe that every thing on earth is connected. In one of their mythologies, their elders had a good life when they lived in harmony with the plants, animals and all living beings. Bad days followed when they began to fight due to jealousy, hatred, fear and anger. They believe that all humans are one and they are separated only by tongues. In their prayer Ojibway people ask: Sacred One/Teach love, compassion, and honor/That we may heal the earth/And heal each other2Ã¢â‚¬Â.
This is a view that Stephen Gill explores in his poetry as well as in prose. In his poem Ã¢â‚¬Å“WhenÃ¢â‚¬Â, he demonstrates his strong faith in harmony that was responsible for carving universe, human and even animal kingdom. Ã¢â‚¬Å“When / harmony disintegrates/ the gates of hell open wide/ for lava to flow.3 In another poem, he says that Ã¢â‚¬Å“Harmony/the author of prosperities/ composes a sonata/ for the piano of delight.Ã¢â‚¬Â4
The Oibways call the earth mother because she gives birth to all living beings. For them, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The sun is the sister of the world, the moon is the brother. The sky, water, fire and stone are also closely related to the earth. The figure on the moon is believed to be that of a small boy carrying two water pailsÃ¢â‚¬Â5. Their myths fobids them to kill certain animals to maintain ecology. Ã¢â‚¬Å“To kill frogs means rain, and it is forbidden to kill frogs and turtles for fear of angering the frog spirit. Indians used frogs and turtles with sorcery to bring upon earth much needed rainsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Killing a snake was not allowedÃ¢â‚¬Â6
The earth is mother also for Stephen Gill. In his poem Ã¢â‚¬Å“Image of FlowersÃ¢â‚¬Â, he says that Ã¢â‚¬Å“humans still need/ the caring arms of the earth.Ã¢â‚¬Â7 In Ã¢â‚¬Å“Garden of Eden,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says mother earth gave refuge to Adam and Eve.8 In Ã¢â‚¬Å“Unity in DiversityÃ¢â‚¬Â, he calls the earth Ã¢â‚¬Å“the mother of all beings.Ã¢â‚¬Â9 and in Ã¢â‚¬Å“If There Be A Third World War,Ã¢â‚¬Â he warns Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mother shall be lonesome/gases hover on herÃ¢â‚¬Â10 .
Stephen Gill, like the Ojibways people, sees a close connection between the earth and its inhabitants. In his lecture delivered at Royal College of Agriculture on September 24 in 1996 and published elsewhere, titled the Development Of Internationalism In Universities, he notes that "Greed, aggression and destruction are the symptoms of pulling the parts before the whole which is greater than the parts. The world has to think in terms of the whole, not the parts."11 The cure for the wholesomeness of the entire planet, including environment, can heal the earth and heal each other.
He repeatedly says that objects on this earth are related to each other and man has no right to spoil nature. He believes that the pristine spirit, called also life force, is present in all creations and every creation has a purpose. Without humans, nature and animal kingdom can survive but not the other way around.
The following lines from a poem of Stephen Gill embody the philosophy of the Ojibway people:
No one can buy
The fragrance of the flowers
Which is a friend of the universe
and the interdependence
of all animals, nations and nature
who form a family with humans
and who breathe the same air
under the same canopy.12
The bond that Stephen Gill and the Ojibway people talk about is the result of the unsullied pristine spirit that is untouched by any kind of bigotry. This bond grows weaker when this spirit is sullied with greed, violence and fanaticism. In its purest form this spirit is found in infants and in its diabolic form in the perpetrators of violence. Several sages, including Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi from India, Martin Luther King, Jr. from the United States, Nelson Mandela from Africa and Aung San Suu Kyi from Burma, have tried to reawaken that slumbering spirit.
This thought is as old as the hills and is vibrant also in the culture of India. The development of the thoughts of the Ojibway nation may have been the result of their close observations and proximity to nature. They must have understood the tongue in the rocks and the significance in the melodies from the waterfalls and streams and in natureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s calm and furious moods.
What Stephen Gill visions in poetry, the first people of North America, the Ojibways, chant in their prayers that is based on their centuries-old stories about the creation of the universe. Mishomis, an Ojibway Indian, believes that the way to be happy is to be in harmony with every object in the universe. Mishomis presents a myth that has been handed down from one generation to another by word of mouth.
In the beginning, the earth had a family. The moon was the grandmother and the sun was grandfather and the creator was called Great Mystery or Creator. Water was the blood of the Mother Earth, and all four directions, East, West, North and South, contributed vitality to the life of the Earth. They all possessed spiritual and physical powers. The birds carried the seeds of life everywhere. They all lived together in harmony. Great Mystery or Creator collected the four parts of Mother Earth to blow its breath to produce a man, who also lived in harmony with everything around. The Ojibways believed that no one was better than the other.13
According to Collins English dictionary Ã¢â‚¬Å“harmony is the pleasant combination of different notes of music played at the same time, and according to Gage Canadian Dictionary it is Ã¢â‚¬Å“getting along well together.Ã¢â‚¬Â In social sphere, harmony means to live and let live to enjoy the pleasant notes in life. It is to create an environment in which humans and non-humans can live together to enjoy equal rights to breathe and prosper. This concept is based on the fact that each animate and non-animate object has values and as long as they co-exist they produce a crop of richness. Humans have no right to impede the growth of richness unless it is for their vital needs.
These are the muscles of harmony that uses the pen of Stephen Gill, a multiple award-winning Canadian poet, who was born in Pakistan and grew mostly in India. He came years ago to Canada to upgrade his education. Peaceful landscape of the new nation inhabited with people of different shades and colors, with divergent philosophies and religious believes, thriving harmoniously, made a profound impression on the poetic soul of Stephen Gill. Gill became a citizen. Later he wrote poems also about his adopted mother. During the days of bitter debates over the Meechlake Agreement that divided the nation, he bemoans when he says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“With a tail for deliberate ruin/ a crocodile of racial disharmony/ enters the waters of my land/ in the guise of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Meechlake fishÃ¢â‚¬Â14. In his widely published poem, Ã¢â‚¬Å“My Canada,Ã¢â‚¬Â he assures his mother that Ã¢â‚¬Å“My well of love/ full for thee. A peace-adoring dove/ never my love/ shall cease for theeÃ¢â‚¬Â15. To make his adopted land a better place to live, at times, he criticizes Canadians for practising discrimination. His novel Immigrant is an example.
In the preface to his collection Shrine, Stephen Gill gives the first glimpse of the awakening of his spirit of harmony in his early teens when he was living in Karol Bagh, New Delhi. At that time the British India came to be partitioned in 1947 into two independent nations. The carving of two nations, India and Pakistan, out of the subcontinent awakened that revolting beast that was dormant in the country. Carnage followed. Religious passions were flared out that engulfed the Hindus, Muslims and the Sikhs. Adherents of different religions went on massacring and dehumanizing one another. These painful occurrences became routine. The pristine spirit of Stephen Gill was awakened when he saw the blood of the innocents on the street and his own helplessness due to religious fanaticism around.
The citizens began to live in fear. In his preface to Songs Before Shrine, he elaborates this fear:
During those riots, we did not know if there would be another dawn and when there was, it brought tales of more brutalities. I saw old people running for help and being pelted with bricks and then burnt alive while the patrolling police ignored the clusters of misguided zealots who were in the street in spite of curfews. I perceived death dancing in the eyes of minorities, heard the cries of infants and read about the butchery of the innocent as if that was happening in front of my eyes.
Curfew used to be lifted for a couple of hours for citizens to buy the necessities of life. Items like sugar, rice, wheat flour and several other eatables had disappeared from the stores. If there were any, their prices had shot up because those who could afford started hoarding them. Minorities suffered this way and also because of other fears. Both the Hindus and Muslims were engaged in this ugliness for religious reasons. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated because he tried to end this drama of degradation to humanity.16
One shudders with revulsion reading the graphic details of the bloodbath, which Gill depicts in Author`s Preface as India`s subcontinent was being partitioned. Gill witnessed some of these incidents of carnage himself. He also read the gory details about them in the papers, and also heard atrocious stories of these brutalities from the people that he associated with. All these have left an indelible imprint on his psyche.
Stephen Gill says, "I began to flutter my wings to escape the prison of suffocation in search of an El Dorado of peace."17 The poet that was awakening in Stephen Gill from his early childhood, was more awakened and more restive when he witnessed these horrible acts. He used to hear and read in the newspapers the graphic details of the carnage that was being perpetrated in different parts of the subcontinent. He must have pondered in his mind that why do the potentates of different religions defile the sacredness of the pristine spirit that abides in all humans.
He could not heal the pains of his early life in India, no matter where he lived. He confesses that "In Ethiopia, as in India, I had dreams of being chased and soldiers shooting people for no reason, while I was trying to escape. I had difficulty of falling asleep that afflicted my life from the days of riots. Those nightmares followed me in Canada. As the night approached, I felt uncomfortable for reasons unknown. The scenes of these crude events are alive somewhere in some caves of my blood. I still dream about people in military uniform, shooting at others for no reason. I began to drink heavily in the evening."18
Poet in Stephen Gill, being extremely sensitive, couldn`t find solace in drinking. In his poetry we see the anguish of his soul and intellect. He contemplates on the sacredness of the spirit that abides in all humans. The potentates of different religions and political tyrants sully the magnificence of that spirit for their own selfish ends, without any pangs of remorse in their hearts. It is then a sensitive soul, who envisions a world of harmony bleeds.
Gandhi was one of those sensitive souls. As a child, Stephen Gill, with an adult friend, attended some of those prayer meetings of Gandhi that he used to hold at his ashram every evening. That ashram was not very far from the place where Stephen Gill passed his boyhood. The same sensitive soul worked in India`s well-known spiritualist Swami Vivekananda. He experienced the same prismatic spirit as wholesome and unsullied from the bigoted doctrines that are preached by religious fanatics. Swami Vivekananda gives a deep insight of this spirit:
A man may have never entered a church or a mosque,nor performed any ceremony; but if he realizes God within himself, and is thereby lifted above the vanities of the world, that man is a holy man, a saint,call him what you will 19
Poet Stephen Gill, guided by the spirit that the first Indian people of Canada, Ojibways talk about, shapes his poetic vision. In his speech, Development of Internationalism in Universities, he emphasizes that, "All men and women are human and therefore they belong to the nations of humans first." 20
In the United States of America, the same spirit for harmony resurrected in Martin Luther King. It motivated changes in the hearts and minds of the many, curbing racial tendencies to maintain human dignity. King sacrificed his life to establish the truth that we are all one. In his poem to Martin Luther King, Stephen Gill elaborates this truth:
He was Moses
who led the weak
through parted Red Sea
of a debasing journey of hardships.
He steered alone
the shaky Noah`s Ark of politics
in the roughest weathers.
His story is not an incident
of losing a finger;
it is the saga of offering a hand
in a calm that encourages the heroism of endurance
to build the pyramids of justice.21
Martin Luther King, Jr, a civil right activist, voices that, "our loyalties must become ecumenical rather sectional. Every nation must develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as whole in order to preserve the best in their initial societiesÃ¢â‚¬Â22 The prejudices that come to be planted into the depths of man`s psyche go on acting as blinders, obfuscating the magnificence of that unsullied spirit which is above all the vanities of man. Because of those walls of prejudices, we haven`t yet built ecumenical humanity; we are still a divided humanity, blocking our way to the Truth of our Being.
Seeing the oneness of mankind torn apart by sectarian violence, poet in Stephen Gill cries out in despair :
Humankind is torn asunder.
It has carved disorderly islands:
each an empty tomb of notions.
self-surrounding cells of egoism
display the nudity of modern savagery.
The sky-hitting towers of their beliefs
defy the teaching of sages.23
That is the central message of the poet. He makes this message clearer in the last stanzas of his poem Ã¢â‚¬Å“I Am Still A ManÃ¢â‚¬Â: Ã¢â‚¬Å“My religion/ was not my choice;/yet I love all creeds./ I did not choose/ my tongue either;/yet I respect all breeds.Ã¢â‚¬Â24 The message that humans are one comes out in this and in several others poems. In most of his poems the egalitarian vision pours out, but it comes out lucidly in this poem. He concludes in this poem that all cultures and religions scintillate the facets of the same pristine spirit that abides in the sanctum of men. The poet puts it in this way, "Every culture/ a beauty of the same garden/ I am also/ your God child."25
The prejudices that came to be planted into man`s psyche, act as blinkers. When passions are inflamed, human cannot see the radiance of that unsullied spirit that abides in everyone. Wise persons in all cultures have perceived this spirit and are still perceiving, considering it the bond that cements oneness. It is the pristine spirit that makes everyone a human. Because of the walls of the prejudices, humans have created a divided humanity. Religious fanatics and unscrupulous politicians, ignoring the pristine spirit that humans inherit, exploit the external passions of man to quench their own unquenchable thirst for more domination. They have no moral scruples. The peace they preach has no foundation in love, because the true peace is love. They manufacture a cobweb of lies, imprisoning man`s heart in the clutches of fear. The poet cynically expresses the politicians` offer of peace in the following lines:
Our politicians want peace
but it cannot be achieved
as long as the citizens are locked
in the prison of their fears;
their daily bread,
doled out by murderers,
and love worshipped
Nations go to war in the name of peace. The TV images of the massacres in Sabra, Shantila, Gujarat, and Rwanda produce shocks and awe. The bombing of the innocent people in the name of peace, convey that man is cruel to man. The beginning of the twentieth-first century has witnessed the despicable dehumanization of man by man in Abu Gharib on TV screens. Worst than these are the incidents that are carried on in the name of God day in and day out by butchering the persons of other faith in cold blood.
Stephen Gill`s poetry was inspired when he witnessed the sectarian violence in his teens in the country of his birth. These meaningless brutalities wounded his soul. In his poem, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Familiar ScenesÃ¢â‚¬Â, he mentions the recurrence of violence everywhere. The ultimate vision that he pours out is an egalitarian vision, which has the foundation in the unity of creation. Poet deliberates in "A Familiar Scene" that man pays no heed to the voice of the spirit within. He repeats cruelty without any guilt. He philosophizes that the atrocities that have taken place in Bangladesh at the time of liberation have the same face that was of the atrocities in Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia or Lebanon. Only its labels have changed but the content of hatred and cruelty remains unchanged. This cruelty of man to man can be performed on any stage of any country. He is convinced that
when ethnic feuds
are taken to the streets
It is repetition of the lust
for a few acres of land
or to eliminate minorities
of different belief.27
The powerful forces of the demagoguery deluge the voice that comes from the conscience of moral abiding citizens. The most powerful dominate all the outlets of the media, rendering righteous voices infective, or lure them into the foul cesspool of their thinking. The poet in "Adders of Today," lays bare the demagoguery of the corrupt, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Words are/ fire/ storm/ sword/ and wound. / Light / flower/ boon/ and guide Crooks/ turn them into/ dreadful/ disdainful/Rotten/ and distasteful/ to breed/ destruction greed / and confusion---the adders of today.28
When democracy is not dominated by the will of the people, adders and demagogues abound in that bogus democracy. They control and dominate the will of the people. Poet in "To War- Mongers" poses this question: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Is this/ a just demand/ democracy`s wish/ to debase and kill / mothers and infants/ and wives innocent .. abolish life of every type?Ã¢â‚¬Â29
In the name of pseudo democracy and peace, bombs rain, killing the innocent and creating devastation not only on land, but also on the mind of people. In "the bunker of panic," the poet "lies a hostage," when he watches on the TV, Ã¢â‚¬Å“the bombs dropping, leaving/ trails as some planets do;/ the tanks striding/ like giants in the Arabian Nights;/ and the spray of the bulletsÃ¢â‚¬Â that remind him of Ã¢â‚¬Å“the urchins at playÃ¢â‚¬Â.30 Are these war-mongers urchins? The poet gives answer in his long philosophic poem "Man is Ever a Child." He concludes in that poem that Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is man`s fate/ to chase pleasures/ as do toddlersÃ¢â‚¬Â. 31
The poet believes that democratic setups would avoid the recurrences of these atrocities. In Ã¢â‚¬Å“Seeds of DemocracyÃ¢â‚¬Â he envisions the true form of democracy:
The seed of democracy
sprouts in the open air
of that soil
which is freely watered
by freedom of expression
and where tongue of serpent
does not throw poison of fear
to fertilize the land
for the thorns of repression
The poet points out the true essence of democracy in "My Beliefs". In this poem he envisions the ideals of democracy that the great souls of all times have:
I do not believe/ in suppressing the truth/ nor using arms/ to settle disputes.
I do not believe/ in the right of might/nor in shedding blood/ to promote a creed.
I rather believe/ famine is man-made/ and sunshine a child of peace.
I believe/ justice is for all/ and God cares for every one.33
Conscientious citizens always struggle to bring in a dawn of true democracy. In India, Mahatma Gandhi who worked to usher in a true democracy, says, "A true democracy is what promotes the welfare of the people. The test of good government lies in the largest good of the people with the minimum controlÃ¢â‚¬Â¦In a system that admits poverty and unemployment is not fit to survive for a day"34 Another important living icon of democracy is Aung San Suu Kyi from Burma. She says, "A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy and fear." 35 This true form of democracy that these great minds of today envision is envisioned by Dr. Stephen Gill in his poetry as well as in his prose.
Once in a while the pristine spirit for harmony that builds true democracy tears the blankets of lies in which the evildoers wrap her, emerging as a sun in a new dawn of hope. In India, the pristine spirit that emerged in Mahatma Gandhi awakened the slumberous spirit of the many, which in the end brought the British Empire down. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, the sages of our times, activated the human consciousness to purge out the prejudices that divide humanity. The poet takes a cue from them to say:
Snuff out the blazes
ignited by greed,
cast off the hostile arms
beyond human bounds.
Let not our infants
inherit savagery from us;
it turns hearts into solid rocks.36
The human spirit that is reawakening in man aspires to give up the addiction to war and live for peace; and then, bequeath the peaceful and joyous world to the coming generations. The poet implores God in "These Children" :
Let these angels advance
to the port of the vision of peace.
in your image.
Keep these innocent souls
Under the softness of your feathers.37
Although Stephen GillÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s poems appear to be direct and simple, they "are capsuled feelings and meanings, gross stripped experience speaking for itself in an era of similar experiences, but unique in the personality and expression of their author."38 Dr. R.K. Singh and Matili Sarkar point out that Stephen Gill, "convey his message by instilling a sense of mortal fear and by extending a sense of desperation into the sympathetic minds of his readers with the help of strong words and phrases of arresting alliteration and assonance. The expressions "murky marshes", "ruthless locusts", "fetters ... cranking`, "vomit violence", "ghosts of sorrow", "gloom of violence", "dust of despicable horror", "self-surrounding cells of egoism`, "spiteful robots", suffocative islands" etc. reveal a picture of devitalised society in the darkness of which the poet is jaded and lost."39 In the fresh tapestry of Stephen Gill`s poetry "tender images are carefully carved." His poetry Ã¢â‚¬Å“speaks of love, a universal phenomenon,Ã¢â‚¬Â40 says Gotta Write Network. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a Ã¢â‚¬Å“torch-bearer for humanity at its artistic best,"41 says Love Song.
No matter what Stephen Gill says and how he says, there is a notable strain of consistency about his ideology of peace, his passion and commitment, as well as poetic beauty and grace that illuminates incomparably in the galaxy of the muse. Poet Gill throws some light on his uniqueness during his interview with Professor Dr. Sarang when he says Ã¢â‚¬Å“My poetry is the psalm of my soul. A poet is also a priest who through the mantra of poetry reaches the god within."42 Patricia Prime, a prominent critic of Indian English Literature strongly believes that from the point of "Gill`s gift of language, the immediacy of his wit and word-play combined with a command of imagery which not only captures his readers in a freeze-frame, but hustles them through time and space to another dimension, places him in the forefront of contemporary Indian poets writing in English."43 Maryanne Raphael says that Stephen Gill`s "magic pen creates a unique metaphor raising his poetry above the common crowd,Ã¢â‚¬Â adding that Stephen Gill Ã¢â‚¬Å“has great faith in love.Ã¢â‚¬Â44
As Stephen Gill believes, the obsession of the religious fanatics and unscrupulous politicians is to exploit the external passions of man for more power and domination, or for the glory of their religion or nation, sullying the very essence of the pristine spirit that abides in humans. Probing the hearts of the politicians, he sees peace and love that they preach is nothing but tissues of lies. "A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say to war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalan, of filling our nation`s home with orphans and windows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on progress of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."45
In Ã¢â‚¬Å“A Familiar SceneÃ¢â‚¬Â, the poet deliberates:
It is familiar scene
at the time of freedom;
or a place in middle-east,
Somalia or Lebanon.
It is repetition of the lust
or to eliminate minorities
of different beliefs46
It often happens that the powerful forces of the demagoguery deluge the voice that comes from the inner conscience from moral abiding citizens. The most powerful dominate all the outlets of the media, rendering righteous voices ineffective, or lure them into the foul cesspool of their thinking. The poet in, "Adders of Today" lays bare the demagoguery of the corrupt: "Words are/fire/storm/sword/and wound/Light/flower/boon/ and guide Crooks/ turn them into/dreadful/disdainful/rotten/ and distasteful/to breed/destruction/ greed/and confusion/-the adders of today 47
The poet`s prismatic spirit aspires that human beings should give up the addiction to war and live for peace; and then, bequeath the peaceful and joyous world to the future. For that the poet implores to God in his poem, "These Children":
Far from evil
Let them grow
As soldiers of peace.
In your image
Bless these angels48
Since the spirit is present in all human beings, and since we are children of one God, the poetic soul of Gill sees the futility of wars. His soul yearns to inspire mankind to relinquish warmongering, and work to bring in the joy of peace. But the ideal of peace is nay impossible without spiritual growth. As one of his critics, Dr. Frank Tierney notes, "But there is in Tennyson`s poem and Mr. Gill`s volume a hierarchy of values. The first and most important is, as John Henry Newman insisted, "growth with in" This growth requires spiritual priority. This principle leads man to personal, national and international harmony through and understanding that comes from love."49
Gill`s poetry conveys, as noted by Dr. Frank Tierney, that man should `grow with in` to stop massacres. Rochelle L. Holt, Ph.D., a prominent poet and critic from the United states, also has the same opinion when she says that Stephen GillÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s poetry reveal the Ã¢â‚¬Å“special theme of love and peace.Ã¢â‚¬Â She ends her articles adding:
Thus, the poet tells us through his work that we are beyond brotherhood and sisterhood as we achieve the forgotten meaning of neighbourhood, not isolated and separate but one large melting pot where we all appreciate our uniqueness while affirming our similaritiesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦. This is not simple thinking, certainly not simple writing. Perhaps when we all cease to identify ourselves as any one more than humans, we will have reached that plateau known as peace.50
Stephens Gill`s poetry is the language of harmony, the heritage of the Ojibway people who live also around the Seaway Valley area where Stephen Gill also lives. Because his poems stream from his soul, he can recognize the spiritual void created by greed. Through his poems, the poet inspires readers to fill in that void with love. This is what the Ojibways of Canada asks the Sacred one to teach love and compassion.Ã¢â‚¬Â51 Because he is aware that love promotes `growth with in`, because he is aware love dispels dark clouds leading humans to the `inner vision`, because he is aware love activates `a revolution of the spirit` and because love sets free from the `prisons of fears`, he wants humans to leap beyond hatred and prejudices. He also wants to heal the world, and bequeath the world of his vision of harmony to the posterity.
In one of the hymns of the Ojibways, titled Ã¢â‚¬Å“Grandfather Story, this harmony has been broken. It asks Grandfather, look at our brokenness. We know that in all creators only the human family has strayed from the Sacred Way. We know that we are the only who are divided Ã¢â‚¬Â¦.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Ojibway nation throws entire responsibility on humans for tearing apart harmony. They laments that humans Ã¢â‚¬Å“are the only/Who are divided.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Stephen Gill talks about this division in his own way:
It is not the beast
of the divided atoms;
it is the blinding dust
of divided humanity
that eats the bones of peaceÃ¢â‚¬Â52
He laments that Ã¢â‚¬Å“Beyond those solitary church towers/ I see the sun of harmony sinking/ in the cave of despairÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â In the same poem, he despairs
A biting chill of sadness
whispers in the twilight that
life will not be the same
because the night of terror
In the jaws of endless depth
of cultural insanities53
It is due to Ã¢â‚¬Å“cultural insanitiesÃ¢â‚¬Â that the poet wishes for Ã¢â‚¬Å“soft drops of harmonyÃ¢â‚¬Â that Ã¢â‚¬Å“shall produce a lullaby/ from the notes of now.Ã¢â‚¬Â54 He condemns Ã¢â‚¬Å“dusty pride in the march/ of technology and scienceÃ¢â‚¬Â that robs man of its happiness. Due to his frustrations, he says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wish to seek refuge/ in my own cosy womb/ from pollution and panicÃ¢â‚¬Â55.
The message in the poetry of Stephen Gill is harmony. This is the message in the mythologies of the Ojibway people. This is also the message of the Government of Canada that promotes multiculturalism actively. In other words, the official policy of the Government of Canada is to create harmony through multiculturalism. Harmony leads to live and let live.
The adorable simplicity of Stephen GillÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s poetry is in the currents of calm beauty in the streams that meander through the meadows of meaningful images. Due to his graceful individual expression and his vastness of thoughts that abound in the land of Gotama and Gandhi, he is distinctively recognizable in the gallery of Canadian and Indian poetry. He weaves those thoughts artistically with the fabrics of Canada for a crop of richness that is needed urgently to nourish the citizens of the global village.
1 Dickason, Olive Patricia. Introduction to CanadaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s First Nation, Oxford University Press, 1997, p.11,
2Harvey, Andrew. The Essential Mystics, Castle Books, New Jersey, 1998, p.20
3Gill, Stephen. Songs For Harmony, Vesta Publications Ltd., Canada, 1992, p.51
4Gill, Stephen. Songs Before Shrine, Marquess College of London Press, 2006, p.49
5 Dewdny, Selwyn ed. Legends of My People, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1965, ISBN: 0-07-077714-4, p.15
6________________________Legends of My People, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1965, ISBN: 0-07-077714-4, p.16
7Gill, Stephen. Shrine, The World University Press, USA, 1999, p. 34
8____________________Ã¢â‚¬Â Garden of Eden,Ã¢â‚¬Â Shrine, The World University Press, USA, 1999,p.36
9___________________, The World University Press, USA, 1999, p. 85
10__________. Songs For Harmony, Ã¢â‚¬Å“If There Be Third World War,Ã¢â‚¬Â Vesta Publications Ltd., Canada, 1992, p. 23
11___________, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Development of Internationalism in Universities,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cyber Literature (India), V. V1. 11 Dec. 2000, pages 58- 62
12.____________, Shrine, The World University Press, USA, 1999, p.33
13Online story about creation of the universe
14Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Meechlake Fish,Ã¢â‚¬Â Songs For Harmony, Vesta Publications Ltd., Canada, 1992, p.46).
15,Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Song of a New CanadianÃ¢â‚¬Â, The Dove of Peace, MAF Press, USA, 1993,
16Gill, Stephen. Shrine, The World University Press, USA, 1999, pages14-15
17____________Songs Before Shrine, Ã¢â‚¬ÂMy Poetry and Me,Ã¢â‚¬Â Marquess College of London Press, 2006, p.15
18_____________.Shrine, The World University Press, USA, 1999, p. 18
19Dyer, Dr. Wayne W. Inspiration, Hay House, USA, Fb. 2006, p. 125
20Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Development of Internationalism in Universities,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cyber Literature (India), V. V1. 11 Dec. 2000, pages 58- 62
21Gill, Stephen. Shrine, The World University Press, USA, 1999, page139
22 Carson, clayborne, Autobiography Of Martin Luther King, Warner Books, NY., p. 341
23Gill, Stephen., Ã¢â‚¬Å“Divided Humanity,Ã¢â‚¬Â Shrine, The World University Press, USA, 1999, page 83
24Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I Am Still A Man,Ã¢â‚¬Â Songs For Harmony, Vesta Publications Ltd., Canada, 1992, p. 35
25________________. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I Am Still A Man,Ã¢â‚¬Â Songs For Harmony, Vesta Publications Ltd., Canada, 1992, p. 35
26Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Talking of PeaceÃ¢â‚¬Â, Shrine, The World University Press, USA, 1999, pp 46-47
27_________.Ã¢â‚¬ÂA Fimiliar Scene,Ã¢â‚¬Â Shrine,The World University Press, USA,1999, p.71
28Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Adders of Today,Ã¢â‚¬Â Divergent Shades, Writers Forum,India, p. 31.
29,Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“To Mar-Mongers,Ã¢â‚¬Â The Dove of Peace, MAF Press, USA, 1993, p.21
30Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hostage,Ã¢â‚¬Â Shrine, The World University Press, USA,1999, p. 52
31_____________. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Man is Ever a Child,Ã¢â‚¬Â The Dove of Peace, MAF Press, USA, 1993, p. 42
32____________. , Ã¢â‚¬Å“Seeds of DemocracyÃ¢â‚¬Â, Shrine, The World University Press, USA,1999, p.61
33____________. , Ã¢â‚¬Å“My Beliefs,Ã¢â‚¬Â Shrine, The World University Press, USA,1999, p. 157
34Wolpert, Stanley. GandhiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Passion- Life & Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, Oxford Press, NY, December 30, 1947, 1990, p 325
36Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let Us Build Bridges,Ã¢â‚¬Â The Dove of Peace, MAF Press, USA, 1993 pp 22,23
37Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“These Children,Ã¢â‚¬Â Songs For Harmony, Vesta Publications Ltd., Canada, 1992, P. 29
38Pollard, Prof.Dr. Richard, says in introduction to Reflections & Wounds,, Vesta Publications Ltd., 1978
39Singh, R.K. Dr. and Sarkar, Mitali De, Ã¢â‚¬Å“A Search for Elysium,Ã¢â‚¬Â The Mawaheb International (Canada), June 1998
40Feischer, Denise Ed., Gotta Write Network (USA),Winter, 1991.
41Love Song, Virginia, Poetcritic (India), July 1997, pages 61-63
42Sarangi, Dr. Prof. Sarangi, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Interview with Stephen Gill,Ã¢â‚¬Â The Atlantic Literary Review, July-Sept. & Oct.-Dec. 2004, vol.5, pages 164-183
43Prime, Patricia, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Shrine: Poems of Social Concerns,Ã¢â‚¬Â Canopy (India), Vol. xv11 39 & 40, pages 35-36, July2000
44Raphel, Maryanne, Ã¢â‚¬Å“GillÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Poetry Enriches Our Life,Ã¢â‚¬Â Bridge-in-Making (India) January-April 1998, pages 41-45 .
45King, Martin Luther, Jr. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King. p 340
46Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“A Fimiliar Scene,Ã¢â‚¬Â Shrine, The World University Press, USA,1999, p. 71
47Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Adders of Today,Ã¢â‚¬Â Divergent Shades, Writers Forum, India, p.31
48Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“These Children,Ã¢â‚¬Â Songs For Harmony, Vesta Publications Ltd., Canada, 1992, p 29
49Tierney, Prof. Dr. Frank. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Reflections of an Indian Poet,Ã¢â‚¬Â The Canadian India Times, November 15, 1973
50Holt, Rochelle L. Ph.D. Ã¢â‚¬Å“A Call for Peace,Ã¢â‚¬Â The Pilot, North Carolina, USA, January 20, 1992.
51Harvey, Andrew. The Essential Mystics, Castle Books, New Jersey, 1998, p.20
52Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Divided Humanity,Ã¢â‚¬Â Shrine, The World University Press, USA, 1999, p. 83
53 Gill, Stephen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Evening of Harmony,Ã¢â‚¬Â Songs For Harmony, Vesta Publications Ltd., Canada, 1992,p. 48
54_____________. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Nirvana,Ã¢â‚¬Â Songs For Harmony, Vesta Publications Ltd., Canada, 1992, p.19
55________.Ã¢â‚¬Å“In My Own Womb,Ã¢â‚¬Â The Dove of Peace, MAF Press, USA, 1993, p.48
Lino Leitao, a novelist and short story writer, also writes book reviews and critical articles.