When we talk about the British poetry, we have a standard timeline, classification and proper division of the poets and their poetry according to thematic choices, the mood of a certain time period or by the lead that a poet who became larger than the age created. This is true to a large extent because we have the age of Milton, the age of Dryden and also Romantic Poetry and Victorian Poetry… we also have the transition phase that saw a change in the theme of the poetry used by the poets like Gray and Blake… however, in Indian English Poetry, nothing could accumulate and that is why we lack a proper division. It started with the shallow imitation of the poets from England during the early 19th-century and went on the same way unless we had the original poets like Aurobindo and Tagore. The poems by Aurobindo displayed an emotional and spiritual connection to the roots of India which were somewhat followed by Tagore and we can see these things in his poems like Where the mind is without fear (which has become very popular) and others. Nevertheless, no other poets could come together in their approach to the themes they chose and that is why we have a very disintegrated history of Indian English poetry.
After Tagore, Sarojini Naidu can be said to have followed what we can call the originality of the Indian ideas, philosophy and deep-rooted emotional bondage. Coming beyond Naidu, the poets had their distinct callings to answer and we could not see an intellectual union that could bring the poets on the same forum for a culminating ideology or stream of poetry as we saw with Keats, Wordsworth and Shelley or Eliot and Pound and others. In India, the poets have their own battles to fight and they are all alone. In modern Indian English poetry, the fragmentation is even wider as we cannot find two poets writing about the same thing with a distinct similarity.
Jeet Thayil has his own battleground and other major and minor poets that we don’t even know so much about have their own confinements. We could never look to our roots and that is why our poetry could not gather the essential appeal that could have appealed to the readers in a way it should have. Comparing English poetry in India to poetry in other popular languages like Hindi, we can see the emotional connection with the readers which is stronger and appealing to the mass. Poetry by Shiv Mangal Singh Suman or even the contemporary figure (late) Atal Bihari Vajpayee has more takers, any day, than any poet in English who wrote… though there are a few contemporary Indian English poets who are trying their best to do their best in the world of English poetry, we have to cover too many steps which seem far-fetched dream today.
Indian English poetry has to be lulled and sustained and this can only occur when the poets are ready enough to look for the themes that might connect and resonate. They cannot keep trying the same old formula of writing whatever they want because they write in English. We have to come out of that mindset.