for "Flute Music"
Right from the setting of this poem, we see the speaker in a poor and destitute
environment. Why does he mention the lizard? Why does he flee
from his fiancee?
How does the speaker describe his poverty? (Pay attention to the
words such as "Monsoon darkness"; "like an animal"; etc.)
How does the flute music influence the speaker? What is the "pangs
"Rabindranath Tagore is a priceless gift to Bengal (his homeland)
and to India. Throughout Tagore's life (1861-1941), he was honored repeatedly
for his numerous literary achievements. In 1913 Tagore won the Nobel Prize
for literature. His inspiring poems and songs rejuvenated and inspired
the Indian culture to be in harmony with its people and with nature.
. . . Tagore had a desire to live, create and be completely free
to discover the riches of life and nature. He once wrote,
"I do not want to die in this beautiful world, but live in
the hearts of men, and find a niche in the sun-sprinkled, flowered forest...
I want to build on this earth my eternal home."
. . . Tagore is most famous for composing the National
Anthem of India. The entire composition contains five stanzas. The first
stanza is the full version of the national anthem. It reads:
Jana-gana-mana-adhinayaka, jaya he
Tava shubha name jage
Tava shubha ashish maange
Gahe tava jaya-gatha
Jana-gana-mangala-dayaka jaya he
Jaya he, jaya he, jaya he
Jaya jaya jaya, jaya he!
The English translation is as follows:
Thou art the rulers of the minds of all people,
dispenser of India's destiny.
Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sind, Gujarat and Maratha,
Of the Dravida and Orissa and Bengal;
It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,
mingles in the music of Yamuna and Ganga and is chanted by
the waves of the Indian Sea.
They pray for thy blessings and sing thy praise.
The saving of all people waits in thy hand,
thou dispenser of India's destiny,
Victory, victory, victory to thee.
This song of mine will wind its music around you,
my child, like the fond arms of love.
The song of mine will touch your forehead
like a kiss of blessing.
When you are alone it will sit by your side and
whisper in your ear, when you are in the crowd
it will fence you about with aloofness.
My song will be like a pair of wings to your dreams,
it will transport your heart to the verge of the unknown.
It will be like the faithful star overhead
when dark night is over your road.
My song will sit in the pupils of your eyes,
and will carry your sight into the heart of things.
And when my voice is silenced in death,
my song will speak in your living heart.(" Tejal Nanavati essay)
From "Stray Birds"
Stray birds of summer come to my
window to sing and fly away.
And yellow leaves of autumn, which
have no songs, flutter and fall
there with a sigh.
O Troupe of little vagrants of the
world, leave your footprints in
Sujata Bhatt (1956 -)
for "What is Worth Knowing?"
Before you even try to understand the poem, remember that Sujata Bhatt
is now in Germany after her experience of multiple migration. This
explains partly her allusions to many places and names you don't know in
the poem. For instance, Nevky Ave is in St. Petersburg, see its pictures
1966, photographs from USSR. Gogol (19th-century Russian writer
1809-1852 ) has stories named "Nevsky Avenue" and "The Nose," though I
don't think it matters that much whether you know it or not.
To make sense of the poem, first we have to sort out the kinds of things
included in the poem. There are repeated references to "Van Gohn's
ear" and "the nose of Nevsky Ave"( --suggesting Gogol?). There are
mentioning of some colonial facts about the Dutch and the Spanish.
There are allusions, also, to facts in nature which may not be facts (for
instance, Spring does not start in May in India; May to September is their
monsoon season), juxtaposed with a little bit of Indian "flavors" -- colors
of turmeric and chilli powder. Try to figure out why the poet
include so many different things.
And then try to answer her question -- "what is worth knowing?"
Sujata Bhatt was born in Ahmedabad, India in 1956, and spent her early
years in Pune. She has translated Gujarati poetry into English for the
Penguin anthology of Contemporary Indian Women Poets. Carcanet have published
her three collections: Brunizem (1988) received the Commonwealth
Poetry Prize (Asia) and the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award; Monkey Shadows
(1991) received a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. The Stinking Rose
was published in 1995. She received a Cholmondely Award in 1991. (source)
Sujata Bhatt has a poem in Brunizem (Carcanet, Manchester,
1988) called "Search For My Tongue"
that deals with the themes of exile (in her
case, multiple exile, from India to Connecticut, and from
the US to Germany, where she now lives), and
the difficulty of writing in a language not one's own.
(Purdah: "[the condition of
following] the custom, found in some Muslim and Hindu cultures, of women
not allowing their faces to be seen by male strangers, either by staying
in a special part of the house or by wearing a covering over their faces."
Cambridge International Dictionary of English)
It, purdah, "came quite naturally" to her; it means safety, learning some
shame; it is like "the earth . . . on coffins." What does purdah
mean to Muslim women and to Islamic culture (see more background
Besides the "she" which is the center of this poem, there is
a shifting of pronouns from the "they" that give commands, to "the
people she has known" to "we" (and "you"). What do these
pronouns refer to? Does it imply a shifting of perspectives of the
speaker of the poem? Why does she remember things from our or your
life? Is it possible that we, or Taiwanese women, are included?
Besides building a community of women who share similar experience of external
control and interiority, she "expands" outside and inside of her self.
Can you make sense of this?
Imtiaz Dharker. Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, painter and award-winning documentary
film-maker. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, she studied in Scotland and then
moved to India with her husband.
Postcards from god (A collection of poems)
An anguished god surveys a world stricken by fundamentalism in these powerful
poems by a writer whose cultural experience spans three countries: Pakistan,
the country of her birth, and Britain and India, her countries of adoption.
It is from this life of transitions that the themes of Imtiaz Dharker's
poetry are drawn: childhood, exile, journeying, home and religious strife.
Born in Lahore, Imtiaz Dharker grew up in Glasgow, and now lives in Bombay,
where she works as a documentary filmmaker. She is also an accomplished
artist, and this selection drawn from her two collections Purdah and Postcards
from god includes her own drawings for these sequences.
'In Purdah she memorialises the betweenness of a traveller between
cultures, exploring the dilemmas of negotiation among countries, lovers,
children. Postcards from god meditates upon disquietudes in the poet's
chosen society: its sudden acts of violence, its feuds and insanities,
forcing her into a permanent wakefulness that ... her eyes with glass lids.
'If the poems collected in Purdah are windows shuttered upon
a private world, those gathered into Postcards from god are doorways leading
out into the lanes and shanties where strangers huddle, bereft of the tender
grace of attention.
'The poems are amplified by powerful black and white drawings by the
author. The line is Imtiaz Dharker's sole weapon in a zone of assault which
stretches over the Indian subcontinent's bloody history, the shifting dynamics
of personal relationships and the torment of an individual caught between
two cultures, divergent worldviews' - Ranjit Hoskote, The Times of India.
'Tension is the key. And it is to the tension in her poetry that Imtiaz
Dharker's rhythmic skills - her variable line lengths, her almost-but-not-quite
iambic metre, her hung or displaced lines - invariably direct our attention'
- Michael Hulse.
'The images in these poems are not merely images created for poetic
effect: they are like blazing fires compelling the readers to take notice'
- Nissim Ezekiel.