Tag Archives: Poem

PHOTOGRAPHING MOTHER

ABOUT THE POET

Tribhuvandas Purushottamdas Luhar, better known by his pen name Sundaram, (22 March 1908 – 13 January 1991), was a Gujarati poet and author from India. He was born on 22 March 1908 at Miyan Matar, BharuchBombay PresidencyBritish India. He completed his primary education in the local school of Matar and five grades in the English medium at Amod, Gujarat. Later he studied at Chhotubhai Purani’s Rashtriya New English School, Bharuch. He graduated in languages from Gujarat VidyapithAhmedabad in 1929. He started teaching in Gurukul at Songadh. He participated in Indian independence movement and was imprisoned for some time. He was associated with Jyotisangh, the women’s organization in Ahmedabad, from 1935 to 1945. He was introduced to Sri Aurobindo in 1945 and he moved to Pondicherry. He presided Gujarati Sahitya Parishad in 1970. He died on 13 January 1991.[1][2][3][4]

ABOUT THE POEM

The poem photographing mother by Sundaram shows the poet’s regrets and also the tragedy of the situation; of his mother’s sorrowful state of disease-ridden health and years of neglect. The photographer tries to be kind to the poet’s mother and calls her Ba. He tries to create her feel comfortable and relaxed and tells her to use caution to not blink. Even the slightest error would mean the waste of a plate and repetition of the entire procedure, The silver-tongued photographer fussing around his mother is barely doing his job unaware of her illness but his request to the poet’s mother has the other effects. The poet’s mother spent all her time doing the housework that she got no gratitude. Since she was passionate about her in-laws we are able to presume that she never protested. forgetting about her own problems she looked toward her children’s future. The poem is structured around the artificiality of the photograph and therefore the harsh reality during which the poet’s mother lives. The poet and his brother try and compensate their mother by trying to alleviate her pain and pleasing her in various ways which are shown within the poem as taking her bent show her town and therefore the palaces, parks, cinema halls, and theatres. But this just looks as if a measly token of appreciation. The poet doesn’t hesitate to require the blame partly for his mother’s condition and feels shame and regret as he sees her lifeless smile plastered on her mother’s face and lastly, it’s shown that s a memorial of affection, he takes her to the studio for s photograph for the last time.

The box-camera, because the name suggests, was basically an oversized box with a viewing
window at one end and therefore the lens at the opposite. Within the box was a sliding frame, which held
a ground glass plate and which the photographer could draw back and forth. The image could
be seen on this plate. Once the photographer had arranged the background and seated his
subject he would go under the black cloth with which the camera was covered. This helped
to keep the sunshine and adjust the main target. Since it had been out of the question to physically move the heavy
camera, the photographer would slide the frame back and forth until he was satisfied with the
result. What made his task harder was the actual fact that the image on the glass plate was
inverted. After that, he would cover the lens, replace the bottom glass plate with a glass plate
covered with a light-sensitive chemical like collodion, and so remove the duvet over the lens.

SHALL I COMPARE THEE TO A SUMMER’S DAY

ABOUT THE POET

William Shakespeare was an English playwright, poet, and actor widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon” (or simply “the Bard”). His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of the uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. They also continue to be studied and reinterpreted. Shakespeare produced most of his known works between 1589 and 1613.[11][12][d] His early plays were primarily comedies and histories and are regarded as some of the best work produced in these genres. Until about 1608, he wrote mainly tragedies, among them HamletRomeo and JulietOthelloKing Lear, and Macbeth, all considered to be among the finest works in the English language.[2][3][4] In the last phase of his life, he wrote tragicomedies.

ABOUT THE POEM

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day is one of the 154 sonnets composed by William Shakespeare. Directed towards his beloved friend, this sonnet enhances the true beauty of the young man whose glories are sung in this sonnet. The poet’s friend in his exuberant self is lovelier and is ceaselessly present in comparison to the fleeting and oppressive summer. Shakespeare describes the summer’s diminishing beauty when the clouds dim its shine, its golden complexion is hidden. Contrary to this, his friend’s loveliness is eternal and everlasting, defying the choice of nature and misfortunes, his youth will not fade. He is immortalized in the poet’s verse for which death will not be able to claim him making him as long as people are present on this earth, he will live forever in his verses. This ‘love poem’ is written not in praise of the beloved it seems but as a self-glorification as death won’t’ be able to brag says the poet, but the poet shall brag as his poem will be present eternally

LINE WISE EXPLANATION

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate
The poet asks his friend whether he would compare him to a summer’s day, but then soon professes that he is far lovelier and more constant than the summer
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Rough winds shake the beloved buds of may signifies the oncoming of summer when buds are starting to grow till spring when they will be in full bloom. And summer’s lease is far too short, which means summer is far too short.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
Here the poet wishes to stress upon this that the summer month is far too strong and short from heaven where it shines form. Often its golden appearance is hidden when clouds cover it thus its beauty is not timelessly present.
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
The poet says every beautiful object will lose its beauty someday by the choice of nature or misfortune.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’ st;
The poet’s friend will not lose his beauty rather his loveliness will be eternally present which is referred to as the eternal summer and his youth will remain with him.
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
Nor shall death be allowed to take the young man with him because in his verse he will live immortalized.
 So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
As long as men shall live and as far as eyes could see, the poet’s poem will live forever, and thus so will the young man.

MAD GIRL’S LOVE SONG

Mad Girl’s Love Song

Summary

This poem summary focuses on the poem ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ by the confessional poet Sylvia Plath. Before looking at the content of the poem, one must look at its title though. ‘Mad’ is here used to mean both mentally unstable, and angry. The fact that Plath characterizes herself as a ‘mad girl’ shows that she is both self-reflexive, and self-mocking. It seems, at first glance, to be a poem about lost love and its caustic effects.

‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ is made up of six stanzas. The first five stanzas are tercets consisting of three lines, while the sixth and final stanza is a quatrain consisting of four lines. The first stanza introduces Plath speaking to us readers in her own person, in the mode of all confessional poetry. Plath plays on the saying “seeing is believing.” She shuts her eyes and the world that is making her suffer seems to disappear. However, when she reopens her eyes, it is evident that she has not been able to escape that world. When she doesn’t see the world, she believes that it is dead. But when she confronts the world in front of her eyes, she cannot deny its existence. Plath ends this stanza by saying that the lover whose absence is making her miserable is probably just an illusion that she herself has created within her troubled mind.

In the second stanza, Plath says that the stars that could have lit up her life have gone “waltzing out”. This particular expression has two connotations – one, that only the stars had given her joy when they had still been there, in which case she is hinting at the fact that the relationship she is lamenting wasn’t very fulfilling, to begin with, and two, that even the stars are happy to desert her in her misery. Next, Plath says that in place of the stars, “arbitrary blackness” has come “gallop(ing) in.” The fact that this blackness is arbitrary shows that it can affect anybody at any time. Plath is, in fact, hinting at depression here. “Galloping” connotes a fast-paced movement, like an onslaught. It is as if depression has charged at her suddenly, and attacked her with full force. The third line of this stanza is a repetition of the first line of the poem, with Plath pretending that all her sorrows will disappear if only she stops acknowledging the existence of this world.

In the third stanza, Plath says that she dreamed of her lover casting a spell on her to make sure that she ends up in her bed. But this spell smacks of black magic, rather than the romantic sense of a man ‘charming’ a woman with his ways. She goes on to say that in her dream, her lover sang to her and kissed her “quite insane.” The fact that she uses the more formal ‘insane’ rather than the colloquial ‘crazy’ shows that she is not talking of romance, but of the adverse effects of love. Moreover, the only place where her lover is seen is in a dream, which leads her to the logical conclusion that she must have conjured him up inside her head.

The fourth stanza has Plath talking of both heaven and hell and saying that neither matters to her. God is no longer up in the sky where He belongs, hell’s fires have been quenched, and both the good angels and Satan’s men have disappeared from her life. Plath is hinting at the fact that her madness is oblivious to consequences since the rational man fears God’s judgment, but she does not. This stanza ends with the repetition that the earth seems to disappear when she closes her eyes. Reading this line immediately reminds us that in fact, the earth will reappear when she opens her eyes once again. Thus Plath is aware (though she may not want to admit it) that heaven and hell are also real, and that her actions have consequences. The suffering that she is undergoing is after all a consequence of her love for a man who never deserved her.

In the fifth stanza, Plath says that she had once believed that her lover, who had deserted her, would one day return to her. However, that does not seem to be happening. Instead, she is growing old. Plath is intensely aware that “love is for the young.” Plath goes on to say that with the passing of years, she has started to forget his name. Here a tone of bitterness is detected as if by forgetting his name she is revenging herself on him for forgetting her. The fact that the name is slipping from her again makes her think that perhaps the lover was just an illusion.

In the sixth stanza, Plath says that instead of a man she should have loved a thunderbird. The Thunderbird is a mythical bird that supposedly leaves for the winter but always returns in springtime. This has two connotations. Firstly, Plath is hinting that she would have compromised and been happy if her lover had only been present sometimes rather than be with her forever. This is an indication of the fact that she suffers from low self-esteem. Secondly, Plath is saying that she would prefer an imaginary and inconsistent love, rather than a real and absent one. The tone of anguish here is unmistakable. The poem ends with the repetition of the first and third lines from the first stanza, in which Plath seems, in fact, to retreat to a world of imagination with her eyes closed and becomes enveloped entirely by her troubled mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Analysis

This poem analysis of ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ is divided into three parts – context, rhyme scheme and rhetorical devices, and deeper meaning. In the absence of any one of these, this poem explanation would be incomplete.

Context: ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ was written by Plath while she was still at Smith College, and before her first suicide attempt on 24th August 1953. An early poem, this is nevertheless exemplary of Plath’s work and her style of poetry writing as a whole. Dealing with the themes of depression and schizophrenia, this confessional poem shows Plath being as unabashed as she has always been in her best poetry. The combination of anger and anguish point to her attempt to give self-expression to her suicidal thoughts, to represent the tumultuous emotions one can go through before taking this supposedly irrational step. Hence it is that Plath clearly characterises herself as mentally unstable. The schizophrenia that was the spirit of the age in the postmodern era is also evident in Plath’s movement between seeing the world clearly and being unable to escape it at one moment, and then doubting its very existence at the next moment.

Rhyme Scheme and Rhetorical Devices: This part of the poem analysis is based on how Plath follows the verse form of a ‘villanelle’ in ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’. A villanelle is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. Here the first line of the first stanza (“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead”) is repeated in the last line of the second and fourth stanzas, and the penultimate line of the sixth stanza. The third line of the first stanza (“I think I made you up inside my head”) is again repeated in the last line of the third, fifth and sixth stanzas. Moreover, the first and third lines of all the six stanzas rhyme with one another. Hence it can safely be said that ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ is a perfect villanelle. The kind of repetition that goes into the making of a villanelle like this one also points to obsession, which is consistent with the obsession that Plath seems to be having with the lover that she has lost in this poem.

A rhetorical device that Plath is using in this poem is personification, in which a non-living thing is endowed the qualities of a human being. By giving the stars the ability to waltz, and the “arbitrary blackness” the ability to gallop, Plath is personifying them without however capitalizing their names. This shows that she is in fact hinting at something greater than light and darkness. She is acknowledging the power of both hope and depression to make and mar a (wo)man’s life.

Deeper Meanings: This part of the poem explanation focuses on two possible interpretations of ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ that might not be apparent in the very words of the poem, but seem obvious enough to a reader acquainted with Plath’s life and work. Both of these interpretations depend on the various references that Plath may be making through the use of the word “you” in this poem.

It is well known that Plath’s father passed away when she was just eight years old. The theme of betrayal that is apparent when Plath says that the “you” in her poem has never returned is also apparent in poems such as ‘Daddy’, in which Plath speaks of the absent presence of her father in her life. In both these poems again, there is a tone of yearning, with an underlying anger that threatens to break out at any instant.

The other thing that “you” could refer to is Plath’s own writing skills. Plath could be saying that she had only imagined she could write, that in fact it was just a dream or an illusion. This is consistent with the low self-esteem that we associate with one who suffers from depression, and with generations of women writers who had been led to believe that they are not fit for the writing profession. Plath, like all American women of the 50s and 60s, thought that marriage and child-bearing were not compatible with writing as a career. In response to rising pressure from her mother to get married while she was still in college, perhaps Plath had been unable to concentrate on her poetry, believing she would no longer be able to pursue it, and making herself believe that she wasn’t even very good at it to begin with.

No matter what “you” refers to, the heart of the matter is that Plath is absolutely honest about how much that “you” matters to her, and this is why the poem appears to readers to be so passionately written.

STOPPING BY THE WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Frost

 

About the Poet:

Robert Frost was born to William Prescott Frost Jr. and Isabelle Moodie on 26th March 1894 in San Francisco. After he lost his father to Tuberculosis, a six-year-old Frost moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts. It was during his high school years in Lawrence that a young Frost who would later go on to become the Poet Laureate of the United States of America got interested in reading and writing. Frost later enrolled at Harvard University. In 1912, Frost moved with his wife Elinor Miriam White to New Hampshire and it was then that he came in contact with British poets who greatly influenced his poetry. By the time Frost returned to America in 1915, his reputation as a poet had been concretized and he already had two poetry collections to his fame – A Boy’s Will and North of Boston. By the 1920s, Frost was considered at the top of the poets’ circle in America. Some of his important collections are New Hampshire, A Further Range, Steeple Bush, In the Clearing, and so on. He was awarded frequently during his lifetime receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry.

About the Poem:

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening was written by Robert Frost in 1922 and published in 1923 in his New Hampshire Volume.

This poem is a perfect exemplification of Frost’s meditative style of writing. The biography has it, that Frost wrote in course of a single night time, such that it can be considered as a spontaneous overflow of emotion. However, the spontaneity in the poem is not of the kind which we notice in the poems of the Romantics of the 19th Century. It is muted, somber, and deeply introspective. Following traditionFrostian poetry, this poem is very simple. There is hardly a word in this poem for which we will have to open the dictionary. Nor are there any devices that shroud any transparency of meaning. This simplicity is a typical trait of Frost’s poems. However, beneath the veneer of simplicity Frost has planted a deep philosophy born out of a conflict between pleasure and responsibilities – something which we all experience at every point in my life. It is the universality of the message of the poem which makes it speak to all ages and all readers. It has been almost ninety-two years since the poem got published, but readers across the globe still read it with the same interest since it will always be contemporary to the human condition. This poem bears testimony to the fact that poetry does not necessarily have to be complex. It can be very accessible and still be one of the revered pieces of poetry.

Stanza-wise Summary:

1st Stanza:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

The first stanza documents the narrator’s first response upon entering the woods. Going by the repertoire of Frost’s subject matter, it is safe to assume that the woods belong to the English countryside. The narrator says that he thinks he is aware of the ownership of the woods and that the owner has his home in the village, away from the wilderness. With the very first line, it becomes clear to the readers that the narrator exercises no proprietorship over the woods. The third line of the stanza gives the readers a slight indication that the narrator might be trespassing – “He will not see me stopping here”. This musing of the narrator makes us wonder whether the owner would have had a problem with someone randomly stopping at his woods if he were present at the scene to notice the same. With the words “fill up with snow’, the poet draws a beautiful picture of snow-flakes spreading across the wilderness. The word ‘his’ in the last line opens a window of meaning. Frost could have used the article ‘the’ but instead, he chooses to use ‘his’ to indicate the fact that the narrator has no scruples against enjoying the beauty of something which does not belong to him.

The task for the reader: Replace the words ‘his’ with ‘the’ to check how the meaning is getting altered. This will go on to show that every word used in a poem is used economically and with a purpose.

2nd Stanza:

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

The second stanza speaks about the absurdity of the act of stopping in the middle of woods on a really cold night. This act of the poet perplexes his horse. Having traveled with his master quite a bit, the horse is used to stopping only when there is a farmhouse near in order to take rest after a long period of travel. Hence, the horse finds it a rather absurd act on the part of the narrator to stop when there is no scope of rest. As readers, it is hard to say whether the horse, being just an animal really thought all of this. Maybe the narrator himself considered his act of stopping on his journey without any purpose strange and tried to convey the strangeness of his actions by speaking about it as if they could be the horse’s thoughts. The third line paints a picture of the geography of the location in which the poet is stopping – there are trees around and also a frozen lake. The fact that the lake is frozen reveals that it is high wintertime. This information gets stressed in the last line of the poem when the narrator declares that it “the darkest evening of the year”. In other words, it is the peak of winter.

3rd Stanza:

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

This stanza highlights the silence of the night. The narrator’s horse shakes his harness which leads the bells on it to give out a jingling sound. The horse does so as a means to inquire after why the poet has stopped in the absence of a farmhouse. Apart from the sound of the bells, the poet can also hear the sound of the flowing wind and that of the soft snowflakes falling on the ground. The words, ‘only other’ accentuate the silence of the night. The night is so quiet that one can hear the wind flow and the flakes fall. Such a deep silence is also an indication of the solitude which the narrator must be experiencing during his moments in the woods.

4th Stanza:

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

In the final stanza, the poet talks about the beauty of the woods and the sense of duty of the narrator. He says that the wilderness is lovely, dark, and deep. The darkness of the winter night is enhancing the charm of the woods in the narrator’s eyes and the density of the woods due to a large number of trees in it, makes it a pleasure to just stand and perceive the beauty of the woods. However, from the second line itself the narrator makes it very clear that although the woods are extremely enchanting, he cannot stop enjoying the pleasures which it has to offer. This is because the narrator has ‘promises to keep’. Promises here stands for any commitments that the poet might have made. It is clear that the poet is on his way to somewhere.

Critical Analysis:

On the outset, the poem Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening appears to be the musings of a lone traveler on the beauty of snow-filled woods on a wintery night. This is juxtaposed with his awareness of time constraints that restrict him from giving in to the beauty of Nature due to his sense of duty. However, after delving deeper into the poem we realize that the poem is a microcosm of a very common situation which we all come across at different points in our lives. It is an exemplification of those times when we are tempted to just sit back and relax; to just take a back-seat in our own lives to appreciate the small joys and pleasures that life has to offer but can’t because of all the work-load that always ties us down.

In spite of being written in an older century, this poem is all the more relevant to the life of the 21st Century when life moves at a cosmic pace and we always have someplace to get to or some pressing work breathing down our necks. While leading this busy lifestyle, there come those times when we just want to give it all up to rejuvenate and enjoy life. However, our pressing sense of duty gives us a reality check and we realize that there is no time for relaxation unless we get done with all the work that life has assigned to us. The constant tussle between pleasure and duty which makes up our life is the crux around which the poem revolves. Through this poem, Robert Frost directly speaks to all of us stuck in a similar situation in our lives and sympathizes with us through his narrator who is going through a similar dilemma. Frost assures us that if we feel like we are losing out on the small pleasures of life because of our sense of duty and responsibilities, we are not alone and there are many like us. The poet seems to be telling us that it is all right if certain moments of joy and beauty are slipping out of our hands because in life duties and responsibilities should always come first. There will always be time to relax and enjoy once we are done with a fair share of work. Relaxation and indulgences will seem much better then because we will not have the guilt of wasting time staining our enjoyment. Hence, it can be said that through his narrator, Robert Frost offers encouragement to the ones who are in the dog years of their life. It is lovely to notice how such an important philosophy of life is being imparted by the poem through the use of very simple words and a very simple situation. The brevity of the poem indeed belies its profundity.

Although Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening cannot be classified under Nature Poetry, it abounds in wonderful Nature Imagery. The poem offers a beautiful pen-picture of snow-filled woods that look nothing short of breath-taking on a lovely winter night. These woods are so enchanting that they have the power to lull a person’s sense of duty temporarily and make him stop work in order to bask in the beauty of Nature.

Another interpretation of the poem could be that the speaker is towards the end of his life – “the darkest evening of the year”. Winter is usually associated with death. Hence, at this juncture of his life, the speaker wants to make his life productive with a last burst of activity instead of giving in to the quietness and serenity which old age is usually associated with. The speaker is tempted to just let go of work and enjoy life. However, he reminds himself just in time that he must not listen to his desire to rest since rest is all he will get after death. He ends the poem with the recurring thought that he still has a lot to accomplish in life,

 

WINTER

It was winter I was sitting outside

sipping  my milk as I sighed

reading the newspaper headlines, country’s at war again it read

Frustrated I put the newspaper aside

Then came tipper tapper of feet

a crash and he was lapping milk happily

as I saw him look at me

I reached out and stroked him lovingly

he dragged me away from reality,

and we played that day endlessly

ANOUSHKA MUKHERJI

EXPLANATION

The poem shows a beautiful bonding between a dog and its owner. The poet expresses distress when she comes across the various happenings around the world and how she feels sad about it. At that moment her pet dog comes around wagging his tails and comforting her with his presence. This poem is an exact representation of the poet’s relationship with her dog. We sometimes crave human interaction so much that we sometimes are ignorant towards those innocent creatures that are adept at easing our worries and keeping us company. The poem’s main focus is on the web of problems created by humankind which humans aren’t adept at handling themselves. For some peace and quiet, they revert to harmful means. We are easily dissatisfied with the true facts and reality that it takes a toll on our body itself. Man creates problems for himself but alas cannot find the necessary solutions. This isn’t the case with animals. Animals create their own harmony and cohabit with each other. Where necessary they get involved otherwise they look for peaceful coexistence.

The background of the poem is set upon a lonely winter morning where the poet is reading the daily newspaper which ultimately leads to misery and distress which the poet wants to avoid. The daily happenings are recurrent and loathsome as they portray that the countries are at war again. Troublesome cases and horrible scenarios swirl in her mind with images of bloodshed and terror spreading over countries like the plague. Out of frustration she puts the newspaper aside and tries to cool her heated mind. The line ‘ tipper tapper of feet’ is of particular relevance to the poet as it means the arrival of her pet dog whom she adores. As any mischievous pet would do, so he also spills milk so as to get a taste and that makes the poet smile while alleviating her of her distress. The arrival of her pet dog signifies that she became engaged with him to forget all about the present reality. For her, it was enough to enter her wonderland and like Alice get lost in it with her dog and forget momentarily about her worries and dwell deep into a fantasy-like or dream-like state. This poem is a perfect representation of animal lovers and their little fantasy-like world in which they engage to escape reality and its harsh circumstances. This is true for every animal lover as the poet being a dog lover herself experiences utmost happiness and pleasure when she spends time with her beloved pet without any worries.

MELANCHOLIC MEMORY

The silhouettes of my dreams

your lingering presence, a faint smell of ecstasy

an enigmatic memory, a nagging remembrance

your honeyed words and scented presence, my thoughts still reek of

your disheartening essence

My body yearns for your sweet gentle caresses

but my mind has grown weary of your wicked ways

Of your abhorrent reassurances and unfaithful eyes

my heart has crumpled from so many scars

creating an endless, endless abyss

Those moth-eaten letters mean nothing to me, because you still live,

in the chasm of  my memory

losing all sense of humanity and bonding with ingenuity

You lost me the day you dashed, making a run for the sun dipped skyline

your melancholic memory now a mere distress

and thoughts filled with the agony that now I must let rest

For now, I know you no more to remember you

As my mother

ANALYSIS 

The poem is set on a somber note where the poet is remembering her mother and at the same time berates her for abandoning her. At a very early age, the poet’s mother leaves her and now only some essence of her is left in her memory. Although the memory is of happier times, of her mother’s sweet presence, of her honeyed voice, it is still painful for the poet to remember all of this. The poet is having conflicting thoughts, whether she should hold on to her memories of her mother or let go as it is still crystal and still painful for her. The letters that her mother left her now means nothing to her as it is a reminder to her that she is not coming back. Because she was deceived by her mother and her unfaithful reassurance, that she doesn’t believe her anymore. This poem shows the thin bond shared by a mother and her daughter and how abandonment caused such great pain and scarred the poet lasting a lifetime. Repetition is used to emphasize each memory and the mood of the poet in the present as she is recounting her old memories. At first, the poet could not come to terms with the fact that her mother had left her and so she was always in a state of restlessness and anxiety, always waiting for her return but when she slowly started to grow up and started accepting the fact that her mother was to coming back, those melancholic memory change to distressing ones and now the word mother brings a bad taste to her mouth as it opens up fresh wounds. The poem is set on a beautiful yet sad background as the memories are beautiful yet a painful remembrance. The poet has personified the pages of the letters that the mother used to send to the poet. Like forgetting a painful past, the poet must also let go of any love left for her mother that she still holds and must not dwell on her past. The concluding lines of the poem shows how the poet is coping up with the after-effects of finally forgetting her mother.

DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT

DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT

About The Poet
Dylan Marlais Thomas was born on October 27, 1914, in Swansea, South Wales. His father was an English Literature professor.
Thomas was an introverted and undistinguishable child. He read all of D. H. Lawrence‘s poetry, impressed by vivid descriptions of the natural world. Fascinated by language, he excelled in English and reading but neglected other subjects. He dropped out of school at sixteen to become a junior reporter for the South Wales Daily Post. By December of 1932, he left his job at the Post and decided to concentrate on his poetry full-time. It was during this time, in his late teens, that Thomas wrote more than half of his collected poems. Thomas also worked as a scriptwriter for the BBC.
Unlike his contemporaries, T. S. Eliot and W. H. Auden, Thomas was not concerned with exhibiting themes of social and intellectual issues, and his writing, with its intense lyricism and highly charged emotion, has more in common with the Romantic tradition. In fact, his attitude, coupled with his work, made him the prototype Romantic poet of the popular American imagination. He was flamboyantly theatrical, an alcoholic and frequently engaged in public riots, and was openly emotional at his poetry readings.
Thomas style of writing is described in one of the letters: “I make one image—though ‘make’ is not the right word; I let, perhaps, an image be ‘made’ emotionally in me and then apply to it what intellectual & critical forces I possess—let it breed another, let that image contradict the first, make, of the third image bred out of the other two together, a fourth contradictory image, and let them all, within my imposed formal limits, conflict.”
Two years after the publication of 18 Poems, Thomas met the dancer Caitlin Macnamara at a pub in London. Macnamara and Thomas engaged in an affair, and the couple got married in 1937. Despite the passionate love letters Thomas would write to her, the marriage was turbulent, with rumors of both having multiple affairs.
In 1947 Thomas was awarded a Travelling Scholarship from the Society of Authors in Italy. While in Florence, he wrote In Country Sleep, And Other Poems (Dent, 1952), which includes his most famous poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” When they returned to Oxfordshire, Thomas began work on three film scripts, namely, “Me and My Bike,” “Rebecca’s Daughters,” and “The Beach at Falesia,” for Gainsborough Films.
Michael Schmidt, in reference to Thomas’ work, writes: “There is a kind of authority to the word magic of the early poems; in the famous and popular later poems, the magic is all show. If they have a secret it is the one we all share, partly erotic, partly elegiac. The later poems arise out of personality.”

About the poem:

“Do not go gentle into that good night”, written by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in 1951, is considered to be one of his finest works. It is widely considered to be the most famous example of the poetic form known as the villanelle, a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third lines of the first tercet repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. The poem has no title other than its first line, “Do not go gentle into that good night”, a line which appears as a refrain throughout. The poem’s other equally famous refrain is “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”. Originally published in the journal Botteghe Oscure in 1951, it also appeared as part of his 1952 collection In Country Sleep and other poems.
Thomas, in the poem, addresses his father who is losing his life to a terminal illness. He laments the confrontation of his father’s loss of health and strength and urges him to struggle against death instead of meekly giving in to it. The question of death in old age is raised in the poem, but the focus is the grief and rebellion of the poet as he wrestles against the face of death or “dying of the light”. It also focuses on the exertion of frustration at the natural order of things that we are powerless to change. There is an explicit nature of urgency in the speaker’s tone and the raw energy of emotions underlying it which makes it one of the most powerful poems of all time. The poet himself certainly burned with a zest for life but sadly, lived it recklessly, drinking heavily, and died a year after the poem was published, in 1952.

Critical Analysis:

Though the poem has a very personal edge to it, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas, is a poem that is applicable to every single human being. It addresses one of the most macabre, yet inevitable truths of life, death. Man’s usual approach towards life is to go with the flow or take life as it comes. Thomas clearly disagrees with this view as he feels that a person’s life, or death, must be dictated only by his own rules. He tells men to “not go gentle into that good night”. In the entire poem, night has been repeatedly used as a metaphor for death. This may be because when we wake up in the morning, we are all spirited and dynamic, but as the day passes, tiredness seems into our activities and makes us lethargic, and by the time night closes in upon us we seem to have lost all our zeal and passion. On a wider forum, during his youth, man is bubbling with enthusiasm and is constantly striving to reach greater heights and accomplish tasks. But, as old age creeps upon him, he grows isolated from the vibrancy of life, and settles into his own cocoon and waits for death. This outlook has been severely criticized by Thomas as he feels that every man should rage against death. Basing on this perspective he gives examples of four different kinds of men.

In the second stanza, he refers to wise men who know that death is inevitable. Though these men have accomplished things, yet they feel that they are capable of doing a lot more. They are being told to do something extraordinary, like splitting lightning, before they die. In the next stanza, Thomas is talking about righteous, good men. These men regret dying too soon because if they were allowed to live a little longer, they could have accomplished a lot more. They are Chremamorphism as sea waves that have not been allowed to play in the bay for a little longer and have crashed on the shore too soon. The poet brings up the third man, who is wild. The wild men larked about their youth and when they reached old age, they were remorseful of their shallowness; yet the poet is encouraging them to not concede living the life they enjoy. Lastly, the poet talks about grave men. The grave is used as a pun here as grave can refer to both serious, and men who are nearing their graves, or who are close to dying. This stanza is a reference to men whose faculties are failing because of old age and frailty, yet they are not letting these limitations deter them from dying in the manner that they want.

The last stanza is clearly addressed to the poet’s father and it is here that we discover that Thomas is pleading with his father to live longer, to not die before accomplishing something great which will immortalize him. He begs his father to rage against death by mustering up all his anger, passion, and zeal for life. The poet’s desperation and tense state of mind are characterized by him telling his father to either curse or bless, but do whatever it takes to cry out passionately and heroically against death.

 

THAT’S SUCCESS

THAT’S SUCCESS

About the Poet:

Berton Braley, an American poet, inherited writing skills from his father, who died when he was seven. He began writing at an early age of eleven when his fairy tale got printed by a small publication. He is one of the most-read American poets of his era with a collection of 11,000 written verses and many short stories. His attitude of being optimistic at all times distinguished him from others. He is added to the lost American author’s list. A reason for this is that he was a contemporary of Frost and thus, got easily lost and overshadowed by Frost’s works. His poems are straightforward and easy to understand and this might also be the reason for the lost interest in his poetry which lacked ambiguity, unlike his contemporary poets. His poets try to touch many themes of capitalistic society, success, love, passion, values, morals, which is a reason his works are not taught in American schools.

STANZA WISE SUMMARY

Stanza 4

It’s going onward despite the defeat,
And fighting staunchly, but keeping sweet;
It’s being clean and it’s playing fair,
It’s laughing lightly at Dame Despair.

Somewhat a continuation of the last stanza, this stanza says that even if one fails, the real success lies in not giving up and marching on. Braley tells his readers to fight determinedly, but stay clean. The sweetness of success lies in fair play, without letting it get tarnished because of resorting to unfair means. Here hopelessness has been personified as “Dame Despair”. One should not be let down by his losses and should never give up on righteousness in his bid to attain success. If moral means are followed to reach the end, then man can mock hopelessness on her face and move ahead.

Stanza 5

It’s looking up at the stars above,
And drinking deeply of life and love;
It’s struggling on with the will to win,
But taking the loss with a cheerful grin.

Success is looking up at the stars and endeavoring to reach them. It is about man’s ambitions and the hard work which he does to accomplish his goals. But, success should not be made synonymous with material goods. Real success lies in happiness and contentment, which is available to man in the form of life and love. The road to success is not a bed of roses. The poet tells all about the struggle that man has to undergo to reach success. One shouldn’t lose their will till the very end, despite all the obstacles that they might face. At the same time, they should not let loss or failure push them down. They should take their losses on their stride and continue working with enthusiasm. With every loss, man learns something new, gets a lesson. Hence, he should accept the failures with a smile and mold them into something productive.

Stanza 6

It’s sharing sorrow and work and mirth,

And making better this good old earth;
It’s serving, striving through strain and stress,
It’s doing your noblest – that’s a success!

In this concluding stanza, the poet encompasses all his thoughts and compresses them into these four lines. He says that real success is sharing joy, sadness, and work, all equally and making this world a better place to live in. There is a message of peace and harmonious living in these lines. Success is about serving others and attempting to overcome strain and stress and other obstacles that fall in one’s path. Being noble, magnanimous, loftiness of mind, spirit, and principles is what makes a man successful.

Critical Analysis:

That’s Success by Berton Braley is a universal poem that any dynamic, ambitious man can relate to. Enlisting all the ingredients that are necessary for brewing up success, this poem is a self-esteem booster. Written in a simple, decipherable language, the poet has made use of precise, piercing words that ensure that the impact of the poem is not compromised. The first stanza is an introduction to the theme of this poem and provides the reader with a base as to what is to come next. The highlight of this stanza is the line about making money, yet holding friends. A man usually has a misconception that to become rich he must sacrifice all his worldly relationships. Mostly, in his chase for attaining success, man ignores or neglects his family ties. Braley clearly states that without the comfort of any companionship it is impossible for man to achieve the true essence of success. The second stanza is about the clarity of thoughts that is necessary for reaching a particular goal. If a man is confused or unsure about his plan of action if he doesn’t know why he wants success or what his definition of success is, then he won’t be able to pursue his dreams. The consequent stanzas mostly talk about how failure should not deter a man from pursuing success. It is inevitable that the path to success will be sprinkled with obstacles. But, if a man truly wants to taste success, then he must be willing to take these difficulties in his stride and keep marching forward. He should make hard work his armor and face all adversities. There will always be a distraction and enticing short cuts, but it is upon man himself to not get tempted to ditch his moralities and values and choose the easier, but wrong way. Success tastes sweeter if it has been achieved by sheer labor and righteousness. Success is also not just confined to one’s personal self. Doing good for society, sharing your joy with others, that is a success. Success is being noble.

Tone:

The poet uses an inspirational and motivational tone throughout the poem. The words and the language used in the poem act as morale boosters and inspire the reader to chase success, but in a moral way. Braley has made use of simple, yet the effective language that can reach all men, as the desire for success is a commonality. That’s Success has a simplistic and straightforward tone.

Central Idea:

As is evident from the title of the poem, That’s Success is a poem that completely revolves around what exactly is meant by success and what are requirements for achieving it. Comprising of six stanzas, this poem begins with giving the main idea as to what constitutes success and moves on to highlight the other intricacies of success. The major intention of the poet has been to inspire the reader to pursue success in a true and righteous manner, despite all the obstacles that he faces. Only this will ensure the achievement of real success, contentment, and happiness. Resorting to unfair means mars the beauty of reaching one’s goal. Thus, there is no shortcut to success and one has to tread on the field of success with hard work as their armor and brave the path that is riddled with risks and failures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CROCODILE AND THE MONKEY

The Crocodile and the Monkey

About the poem:

A poetic version of the moral tale of a crocodile and a monkey from the Panchatantra, The crocodile and the monkey by Vikram Seth is one of the poems from Seth’s Beastly Tales from Here and There, which is a collection of moralistic poems with animals depicting human traits. In the poem, a wife’s needs displace a friend’s.  Mrs. Crocodile is drawn as a zaftig, scaly monstrosity with the expression of a nagging, vain, cuckolding wife. A good monkey may be hard to find, but Kuroop the crocodile has no choice but to satisfy his wife’s prandial passion by acquiring the mango-rich heart of the monkey. Only a foolish monkey would be so kind as to give a lowly crocodile the freshest mangoes from the trees. Kuroop the crocodile falsely convinces the monkey to attend their home across the river for a dinner. While the monkey rides upon his back, Kuroop generously offers him a choice as to the manner of death. But the monkey is not so easily duped by trickery. By cleverly stating that he never carries his precious heart with him and has left it in the trees on the shore from which they came, the monkey is saved. And upon his return, he crowns Kuroop with rotten mangoes hurled from the trees. The main moral is that one should not trust those who are normally untrustworthy. Even when we are walking towards our death, if our ‘friend’ backstabs us, we should not give up. We still have hope at the last moment as long as we do not give up.

Line wise explanation of the poem:

On the Ganga’s greenest isle
Lived Kuroop the Crocodile:
Greeny-brown with a gentle grin,
Stubby legs and scaly skin,
He would view with tepid eyes,
Prey below a certain size
But when the substantial dish
Dolphin, turtle, fatter fish
Swam across his field of view,
He would test the water too.
Out he’d glide, a floating log,
Silent as a polliwog
Nearer, nearer, till his prey
Swam single length away;
Then he’d lunge with smiling head,
Grab, and snap, and rip it dead

Then (prime pleasure of his life)
Drags the carcass to his wife,
Lay it humbly at her feet,
Eat a bit, and watch her eat.

The poem begins with the introduction of Kuroop, the crocodile. Kuroop inhabits the greenest island situated on the river Ganga. This is continued with the physical description of Kuroop, mentioning the skin of a greenish-brown color and a scaly texture. The crocodile has small, stubby legs and a perpetual gentle grin, and his eyes hold an apathetic expression. His hunting skills have been elaborated upon. Whenever Kuroop would pry any prospective preys crossing, he would follow them, as silent as a tadpole, until he’d be close enough to lunge at and tear them. Then he would carry the hunted to his wife and present it to her and together they would devour it.

All along the river-bank
Mango trees stood rank on rank,
And his monkey friend would throw
To him as he swam below
Mangoes gold and ripe and sweet
As a special summer treat
“Crocodile, your wife I know
Hunger after mangoes so
That she’dpine and weep swoon,
Mangoes-less in burning June.”
The Kuroop the crocodile,
Gazing upwards with smile,
Thus the addressed his monkey friend:
“Dearest monkey, in the end,
Not the fruit, but your sweet love,
Showered on us from above,
Constant through the changing years,
Slakes her griefs and dries her tears.”
(This was only partly true
She liked to love, and mangoes too.)

The scene described is one of a mangrove, which is known by the mention of mango trees surrounding the river. The monkey, from the title of the poem, is introduced here. The monkey, being able to climb on trees, would pluck mangoes from the trees and throw them down to the crocodile so that he could take them to his wife. The monkey’s kindness and consideration are known through these lines as he wants to wipe away the crocodile’s wife’s grief and satiate her hunger for golden sweet mangoes. Kuroop also acknowledges the monkey’s gratuitous gesture and thanks to him for how he has been constantly showering his love through mangoes on Kuroop and his wife.

One day Mrs. Crocodile,
Gorged on mangoes, with a smile
Sad, yet tender- turned and said:
“Scalykins, since we’ve been wed,
You’ve fulfilled my every wish
Dolphins, turtles, mangoes, fish
But I now desire to eat,
As an anniversary treat,
Something sweeter still than fruit,
Sugar-cane or sugar-root:
I must eat that monkey’s heart.”
“What?” “Well, darling, for a start,
He has been so kind to me;
Think how sweet his heart must be:
Then, the mango pulp he’s eaten
Year on year must serve to sweeten
Further yet each pore and part,
Concentrating on his heart.”
“Darling, he’s my friend.” I know;
And he trusts you. Therefore go-
Go at once and fetch him here
Oh, my breath grows faint, I fear…”
“Let me fan you- it’s the heat”
“No- I long for something sweet.
Every fruit tastes bitter now.
I must eat his heart somehow.
Get him here, my love, or I,
Filled with bitterness, will die.”

While feasting on her sweet mangoes, one fine day Mrs. Crocodile, with a pitiable smile turned to her husband, Kuroop and pleaded with him that through all these years he has fulfilled every wish of hers and had fulfilled all her whims and fancies, from dolphins to turtles to mangoes and fishes. But now, her heart desires for something sweeter than all these delicacies as an anniversary gift; she yearns for the monkey’s heart. Her request leaves Kuroop aghast as the monkey has always been nothing, but overtly kind and a good friend to Kuroop and his wife. To this, Mrs. Crocodile justifies her wish to state a logic as to how over the years the sweetness of the mangoes that the monkey has consumed would have accumulated in his heart, coupled with his love and kindness, and this would have made his heart very sweet to taste. She further asserts her wishes by putting up a show of how she is crumbling with longing for the monkey’s heart. Kuroop tries to dissuade her but to no avail.

When the monkey saw Kuroop
He let out a joyful whoop,
Jumped from branch to branch with pleasure,
Flinging down the golden treasure:
“Eat, my friend, and take your wife
Nectar from the tree of life
Mangoes ripe and mangoes rare,
Mangoes, mangoes everywhere.”
Then Kuroop the crocodile
Gazed up with a gentle smile:
“Monkey, you are far too kind,
But today, if you don’t mind,
Dine with both of us, and meet
Her whose life you’ve made so sweet.
when you meet her you will see
Why she means so much to me.
When she takes you by paw
Something at your heart will gnaw.
When you gaze into her eyes
You will enter paradise
Let us show your gratitude:
Share our friendship and our food.”
“Dear Kuroop, dear crocodile,
You can swim from isle to isle.
I can leap from limb to limb,
But, my friend, I cannot swim.
And your island’s far away.
If I get a boat someday…”
“Nonsense; jump upon my back.
You’re no heavier than my sack
Filled with mangoes to the crown.”

When Kuroop goes down to fetch the monkey for his wife, the monkey sights him. He greets Kuroop by throwing down ripe, golden mangoes from the trees to him so that he can take them to his wife and they both can enjoy them together. This itself shows how considerate and affectionate the monkey was and how much he valued Kuroop as a friend. Then, Kuroop invites the monkey over to dine with him and his wife on the pretense of wanting to introduce the monkey to his wife. Kuroop’s words have a dual meaning here. The phrase “When she takes you by paw, Something at your heart will gnaw. When you gaze into her eyes, You will enter paradise”, can also be interpreted as a warning as he is suggesting that meeting his wife will lead to the monkey’s heart being gnawed and him entering paradise or afterlife. The monkey replies to this invitation saying that conveyance will be a hindrance as unlike the crocodile, he cannot swim. He says that if someday he gets access to a boat, he will surely visit the crocodile and his wife. Considering his wife’s urgency, the crocodile comes up with a solution and suggests the monkey climb on his back so that he can give him a ride to his abode.

So the monkey clambered down,
Bearing mangoes, and delighted
With such warmth to be invited.
They were just halfway across
When the crocodile said: “Toss
All the mangoes in the water.”
“But these fruits are all I’ve brought her.”
“You yourself are the gift enough,”
Said Kuroop in accents gruff.
“Ah, my friend, that’s very gracious.”
“Well, my wife’s not so voracious-
And I’m certain that today
She won’t eat fruit. By the way.
Tell me what your breast contains.
Mango nectar fills your veins.
Does it also fill your heart?”
Said the monkey with the start:
“What a very curious question.”
“Well, she might get indigestion
If it’s too rich, I suspect.”
“What?” “Your heart.” “My heart?” “Correct.”
“Now,” Kuroop said with a frown,
“Which would you prefer- to drown
In the Ganga or to be
Gutted by my wife and me?
I will let you choose your end.
After all, you are my friend.”
Then he slowly started sinking.
“Wait,” the monkey said, “I’m thinking.
Death by drowning, death by slaughter
Deat by land or death by water
I’d face either with a smile
For your sake, O crocodile!
But your wife felicity
That’s what means the most to me.
Noble lady! How she’ll freeze,
Dumb with sorrow, when she sees,
Having prised my ribs apart,
That my breast contains no heart.
If you had not rushed me so,
I’d have found the time to go
To the hollow where I keep
Heart and liver when I sleep,
Half my brain, and fingernail,
Cufflinks, chutney, and spare tail.
I had scarcely woken up
When you asked me here to sup.
Why did you not speak before?
I’d have fetched them from the shore.”

The monkey took to Kuroop’s invitation and clambered down upon his back. Halfway through their journey, Kuroop tells the money to toss all the mangoes that he has brought for his wife into the water. The monkey is surprised by this curious request and Kuroop clarifies by saying that the monkey himself is gift enough for his wife. He says that the monkey himself will be enough to satisfy his wife’s appetite and asks the monkey if his heart really is richly sweetened by the mango nectar, as this might lead to his wife suffering from indigestion. This conversation confuses the monkey and he finally is able to decipher Kuroop’s implication when Kuroop asks him whether he would prefer to drown in the Ganga or be slaughtered by his wife. The monkey appears to be deep in thought and replies finally by saying that he is ready to sacrifice his life for his friend. But, the main problem lies in the fact that the monkey contains his heart, not in his breast, but stores his heart, liver, half brain, fingernail, chutney and cufflinks in a hollow while he is sleeping. When the crocodile extended to him the invitation, the monkey has barely woken up, and hence he did not get the time to retrieve his heart from the hollow.

Now Kuroop the crocodile
Lost, then quickly found, his smile.
“How my sweetheart will upbraid me!
Monkey, the monkey you must aid me.”
“Well ” the monkey placed his paw
Thoughtfully upon his jaw
“Well, although the day is hot
And I’d really rather not
We could go back, fetch my heart,
Check its sweetness, and depart.”
So the crocodile once more
Swam the monkey back to shore,
And, with tears of thankfulness
Mingled with concern and stress,
Worried what his wife would say
With regard to his delay,
Begged his friend: “Come back at once.”
“I’m not such a double-dunce,”
Yelled the monkey from the high;
“Tell your scaly wife to try
Eating her own wicked heart
If she has one for a start
Mine’s been beating in my breast
Night and day without rest.
Tell her that and for you,
Here’s my parting gift” He threw
Mangoes squishy, rotten, dead
Down upon the reptile’s head,
Who, with a regretful smile,
Sat and eyed him for a while.

First a little apprehensive about deciding his course of action, Kuroop finally decided to take the monkey back to his tree so that he could fetch his heart for Kuroop’s wife. Despite being worried about his wife’s reaction to this unforeseen delay, the crocodile was immensely thankful for the monkey’s cooperation. But, when he told the monkey to make haste and come back down on his back, the monkey retaliated by saying that he was once bitten and twice shy. He wouldn’t be stupid enough to aid the crocodile, who had taken undue advantage of his friendship and tried to use him as a scapegoat. Throwing down rotten mangoes upon Kuroop’s head, the monkey told him that the excuse of his heart is kept in a hollow was just a trick that he used to manipulate Kuroop and save his own life. Cursing Kuroop’s wife, he told him that his heart was intact inside his body all throughout. And on this note, he bade him goodbye, while Kuroop kept gazing at him with mournful eyes.

Critical Analysis

On the surface a children’s poem, But at its heart, The Crocodile and the Monkey by Vikram Seth is a well-spun tale of friendship, kindness, betrayal, and subsequent estrangement. Rewriting the moralistic tale of not trusting those who are untrustworthy, from the Panchatantra, Seth presents this story in a poetic form with a nursery rhyme-like tune with humanized animals conversing and imparting values. Kuroop the crocodile is a character whose major objective is to impress his wife and cater to all her needs. For this purpose, he brings her carcass of his prey and also agrees to sacrifice his own friend, the monkey to satisfy her appetite. His wife, Felicity is shown to be greedy, manipulative, and selfish as she wants to devour the same monkey’s heart, who had been providing her with sweet mangoes through so many years. Her concern lies only with her own well being as she put her husband, Kuroop’s friendship with the monkey on the back burner, and demanded that he betray his friend and satiate her greed. The monkey’s presence of mind and shrewdness was identified when he outsmarted Kuroop after knowing about his evil intentions and managed to save his life. Written in a humorous, witty manner, poem. A ballad, it not only narrates a story but also gives a very honest picture of human interactions. Narrated in a racy, yet bantering manner, one notices the difference between the crocodile’s attitude of a predator towards his prey and his docile nature towards his wife. .

Conclusion

Written by Vikram Seth in a simple, yet impactful language, the crocodile and the monkey are a poem which is for children on the surface but has a deep-rooted meaning. Through animals, it has portrayed some of the most popular, yet intricate human relationships. From unlikely friendships to betrayals, a monkey and a crocodile express it in their own way. Even the wicked, greedy wife of the crocodile expresses traits of greed, lust for more, and manipulation. To the young readers, the easy melody of the poem because of its AABB rhyme scheme will leave an impression, and to the more mature reader, the themes of the complexities of human interactions will appeal to. Overall, the poem is a light read with an underlying deep meaning to it.

 

THE PATRIOT AND OLD STORY

The Patriot-And Old Story

About the poet-

Born on 7th May 1812, Robert Browning was an English writer and dramatist whose authority of dramatic verse, and specifically the dramatic monologue, made him one of the first Victorian writers. The Patriot-An Old story is an example of his works containing dramatic monologue. His sonnets are known for their incongruity, portrayal, dark humor, social editorial, authentic settings, and challenging vocabulary and language structure. At the point when Browning passed away in 1889, he was viewed as a sage and scholar artist who through his verse had made commitments to Victorian social and political talk – as in the sonnet Caliban upon Setebos, which a few commentators have seen as a remark on the late hypothesis of development. Strangely for a writer, social orders for the investigation of his work were established while he was still alive. Such Browning Societies stayed basic in Britain and the United States until the mid 20th century.

About the poem-

The Patriot – An Old Story is a poem written in Browning’s typical manner as it mirrors his murkiness, profound religiosity, and powerful confidence. This poetry is about a man who was once perceived as their legend and was valued and could fulfill anything that he favored in whichever way, but is later misjudged and is dismissed by the general population and is sentenced to death. He admits that he is sentenced to death for the wrong reasons and has faith and trust in God that he will be spared from general society’s misconstrued perspectives. He says that he is safe in paradise, and therefore this demonstrates that he inherently believes that he is correct, regardless of the public opinion. The theme of the poem is universally applicable as it touches upon the subject of the downfall of great men. Power and glory are impermanent and never last forever.

Mood, Setting of the poem:
“It was roses, roses, all the way” is indicative of a retrospective mood of the poet. The use of past tense in the beginning and then changing on to present tense is evidence of this.
The first two stanzas elaborate upon the grand welcome given to the poet. The mood focuses on the townspeople people, who are jubilant, happy, celebrating, and flaring fiery flags. Third stanza onwards, the mood is infected with tension and the patriot’s feeling of betrayal and anguish. He is feeling helpless and morose all his good deeds have been dismissed, and the people who once celebrated him are now executing him.
Hope and optimism can be seen in the last stanza where the patriot believes that after death, he will get true justice in God’s safe haven.

Stanza wise Explanation:

It was roses, roses, all the way,
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad:
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day.
the patriot by Robert browning is a poem about a man who has done something great for his country and countrymen, most probably a war hero, who is returning to his town. The first stanza is an elaborate description of how the poet is welcomed back with pomp and ceremony by all the townspeople. His path is laden with roses and myrtle, which signify love, respect, and honor being showered on the patriot by the people. The residents of the town have clambered onto their roofs to get a glimpse of the patriot and welcome him home and showcase their gratuity. This creates an imagery of the house itself moving and swaying with the weight and number of people. Even the church spires were decorated with fiery colored flags. This gives the reader an idea of the enormity of the celebrations. The bright color of the flags made the church spires look like they were on fire and flames were engulfing them. In the last line, the poet discloses to the reader that these events occurred on this date, exactly a year ago.

The air broke into a mist with bells,
The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries.
Had I said, Good folk, mere noise repels---
But give me your sun from yonder skies!''
They had answered,
And afterward, what else?”
The ringing of the church bells infected the air and it seemed to be echoing the celebratory noise. The walls of the city, which were already on the verge of erosion, due to time, reflected the impact of the din created by the crowd. It seemed to conduct the tremors and move. The patriot here is telling the people how he doesn’t want all the cheers and applause but wants the people to fetch the sun from the skies for him. He wants the power, glory, admiration, and honor. He wants to live in their memories as an immortal hero. The crowd replies to his request with a query as to after this, what else does he require. Here a side of the patriot is shown that searches, not for momentary praise, but for everlasting recognition and glory. He doesn’t want extravagant celebrations that can die down with time. He is looking for something more permanent. The sun is a symbol of immortality, power, honor, and glory. Hence, the patriot asks the people to fetch him their sun from the skies. The answer to the crowd is reflective of their frivolous nature. They immediately ask the patriot what else would he require, other than the sun. This indicates that though the crowd was eager, they weren’t sensible. As the sun is the ultimate power, and one wouldn’t require anything after conquering it.

Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun
To give it my loving friends to keep!
The naught man could do, have I left undone:
And you see my harvest, what I reap
This very day, now a year is run.
The third stanza acts as a conjunction for the transition from the past to the present. The patriot says that despite him asking the townspeople to get him the sun, in the end, it was he who leaped for it and got it for the people, who he refers to as his beloved friends. This act that he does is such in nature that had he left it undone, no other man could have accomplished it. This stanza has a tone of regret. This can be deciphered by the use of “Alack!” or Alas. Also, the last two lines indicate this as the patriot mourns about how his deed has been repaid by the people. His “harvest” is what he has reaped, whereas what he had sown was bringing glory, power, and honor to the people. The first two stanzas narrate the incidents of a year back when the patriot was given celebrity status. This stanza acts as synopsis to the current events.

There’s nobody on the house-tops now—
Just a palsied few at the windows set;
For the best of the sight is, all allow,
At the Shambles’ Gate—or, better yet,
By the very scaffold’s foot, I trow.

There are no more people on the rooftops, trying to catch a glimpse of the patriot. Only a few cripples can be seen at the windows. The patriot takes up a sarcastic tone at this point and says that this is because the best sight is at the gate of the gallows. In this stanza, a contrast is drawn between the time when the rooftops were heaving with people, celebrating the patriot’s deeds, and the current scenario where the people are assembled, but near the gallows. Only the ones who cannot travel to the spot of execution, the ones who are crippled, are staring outside their windows to get a look at the patriot. The patriot’s anguish is seen when he taunts about the townspeople, saying they will be found, not on the roofs, but on the site of the execution, or better still, at the foot of the gallows. This stanza is suggestive of the patriot’s fate that he is being taken to be executed.

I go in the rain, and, more than needs,
A rope cuts both my wrists behind;
And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,
For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year’s misdeeds.

The imagery here is that of the patriot walking in the rain, heading towards the gallows. His wrists are tied tightly behind his back with a rope that cuts through his
skin. He can feel blood trickling down his forehead, but he cannot know for sure as his hands are bound, so he can’t touch and feel. His cuts are because of the stones being flung at him by anybody and everybody. The picture being projected in this stanza is a very pitiable one as it is in direct contrast with the imagery of the first and the second stanza. The patriot provides an ambiguous explanation for this transition, saying he is being punished for the misdeeds that he has committed within this one year. Despite the fact that no rigid and stable details have been given of the patriot’s act, it can be inferred that most probably he has indulged in acts of treachery, betrayal, or any such unpatriotic act. This conclusion can be reached keeping the title of the poem in mind. The main gist of this stanza is the description of the poet’s walk of shame.

Thus I entered, and thus I go!
In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
Paid by the world, what dost thou oweMe?”—God might question; now instead,
‘Tis God shall repay: I am safer so.

The concluding stanza of the poem begins with the patriot declaring how he is leaving, the same way that he entered. He is walking towards his death through the same streets on which he had entered the town and was welcomed as a celebrity, a hero. Even the most important, most loved people have lost their glamour and glory. The most triumphant have also fallen. The patriot’s religious beliefs have been reflected and his belief in an afterlife has been showcased when he mentions how he will be received by god. If God might ask him, now that he has been paid for his deeds by the world, what more does he owe to god? The patriot’s reply to this has shades of faith and optimism. He replies saying that his real repayment will be done by god. He is placing his trust in God as he knows that he has committed no moral wrongs and the almighty is always just and fair. Hence, he is safe with god as he won’t have to face any more undeserving punishments and will be truly and justly rewarded for his acts or deeds.

Critical Analysis:

Written in the form of a dramatic monologue, The patriot- An old story by Robert browning is an account of a man’s fall from power to disgrace. From the title of the poet, The patriot, one gathers that the poem is about an individual. On the other hand, the subtitle, “an old story” can be deciphered as it is a universal story that can be applicable to anybody. This is in line with the contrast that is projected in the poem.
The first stanza begins with the description of the patriot’s arrival into the town and the magnificent welcome given to him by the townspeople. His path has been laden with roses and fragrant myrtles and people are clambered on their rooftops to catch a glimpse of and congratulate the patriot. The past tense used in the first stanza creates a retrospective narrative. It has been implied that the town is a very cluttered and old one. “Old walls rocked” in the second stanza is evidence of this. The poet has religious beliefs and this can be seen in the first and second stanza where he mentions churches and bells, also the last stanza has him reaching out to God’s safe haven for justice. But, the patriot is shown as a man who values permanence more than temporary glory. This is reflected in his asking the townspeople to fetch him the sun, as it is the ultimate symbol of power, glory, and immortality. True to the title of the poem, the patriot himself fetches the sun for his beloved friends, but it is then that regret enters his tone. His feeling of betrayal is quite clear when he mentions about despite his good deeds what he is reaping. “A year has run” signifies that something eventful has taken place through that one year which has had some adverse effects. This is when he starts narrating the current scenario. The mood of the poet changes to sarcastic and ironic as he draws a contrast by juxtaposing the full roofs in the past with the present empty ones. The fickle nature of the townspeople can also seem like the same people who were celebrating the patriot, are now gathered near the gallows to cheer his execution. To emphasize on the patriot’s emotions, his walk of shame is described where the patriot comments on the transitory nature of man, who might love today and hate tomorrow. Despite this sorrowful tone of the poem, one notices that Browning ends a poem on a note of optimism as he hopes that regardless of the misunderstanding and evils contaminating the world, God always does justice and it is in death that the patriot will be granted what he truly deserves and will rest peacefully in God’s safe haven. This is also an example of the faith he places in god and religion.

Theme:
The Patriot is majorly based on the theme of rising and fall of fortune. The narrator, the patriot is welcomed with feverish joy and paths of roses in the first two stanzas by the townspeople. But, by the end of the poem we see that those same people have humiliated and executed him, within a year. This shows that glory and fortune do not last forever. People are fickle-minded and change their opinions without a second thought. Someone who is loved today may easily be hated tomorrow.
The poem has undertones of religiosity. The first stanza itself mentions flags fluttering on the church spires also; the patriot is welcomed with ringing bells. The final stanza has the patriot being optimistic about death as he believes that God does justice to one and all and he will recognize that the patriot has done nothing immoral. This faith in God and the belief that he will be safe in god’s abode shows that a patriot is a religious man. Also, there is a biblical reference when the poet mentions the reaping of the harvest.
Betrayal is also a minor theme in the poem as the poet fetched the sun for the townspeople, and in return, they stamped him as a criminal and executed him. All his good deeds were forgotten and he was brought to a humiliating and painful death.