Commentary – A Different History (by Sujata Bhatt) ‘A different history’ by Sujata Bhatt is a poem written about the social and political concern of the lost of cultural identical renouciation of Indian identity. The poet has used sentence pattern, motifs, symbolisms and imagery predominantly in this poem to emphasize the problem of younger generations losing their roots and identities. The poem begins with the use of the motif “Great Pan” who is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs. Great Pan” in the poem is a symbolism of the native culture and identity in the European countries. This motif plays a huge role in the poem as the first three lines in the first stanza shows us the richness of Indian culture and the need for all Indians to appreciate their culture. The great pan leaving Europe to India portrays the intensity loss in Europe but more important highlights the attraction of the land, rich, harmony between environment and human society coexisting that India can offer. The human nature and human wisdom is what attracts even the god of culture to leave Europe and “emigrated to India”.
The poet highlights through this use of personification that every Indian should be proud of the great culture root that Indian can provide. The sentence patterns along with other techniques used by the poet are significant in terms of the allowing the readers to understand the theme and the concerns of the poet. The run on lines in the first stanza implies that Indian culture will never fade or end and that it will be eternal, passing on through generations and generations. It is also effective in the sense that the run on lines emphasizes the effectives of the repetitions used in the poem.
The repetition of “ It is a sin” ultimately shows the readers that it is a sin to discard the Indian culture and it is a sin to forget where one is from and what one should value culture-wise. The constant use of cultural icons such as “snakes”, “monkey” and “trees” further stresses the rich native culture in India and how important it is that conserve this culture. An imperative is also used in the poem “ You must learn…wood the paper was made” gives off a cautious tone, warning the readers what would happen if the culture is not respected and treasured.
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The first stanza of the poem, although linked closely with each other have very contrasting moods. In the first stanza, the poet idolizes the uniqueness of Indian culture and how important it is to sustain this culture. The mood that the readers get is hopeful and respectful. However, in the second stanza, the reader uses many techniques, principally rhetorical questions to express her thoughts of the English colonization and the English language influences. The tone in the second stanza is bitterness and sad with a sense of fear.
The rhetorical questions “Which language has not been the oppressor’s tongue? ” and “ Which language truly meant to murder someone? ” contradictory with each other. The first question implies that the English imposes foreign language on native Indians when they first conquered India. She explores the enigma whereby the language of the conqueror is cherished by later generations. “The unborn grandchildren grow to love that strange language”. The second question is a metaphor the poet had used to point out the neutrality of language.
Language is not meant to murder anyone and is major component of history. She is merely confused why Indian people of today’s generation would love a language that came from people, which has caused death and agony for hundreds of years in India. It is ironic to see how young people today forget about their heritage to love the English language. The two stanzas link with each other to show the confusion of the poet not understanding how people could neglect their own rich culture (described in stanza one) to loving a language that has caused them so much pain in the past (stanza two)
The pre-dominant imagery used in the second stanza is imagery of the English colonization. The use of the metaphor “after the torture, with… of the conqueror’s face” contains many destructive diction that provokes a negative feeling for the readers but more importantly to build up to the irony. The fact that after all the people in India have gone through in the colonization by England, generations today would still love and speak English. The sense of pain and sorrow of the poet is undeniable.
After the colonization of India, English was brought in as an official language and was referred to as the “strange language” that younger generations love. The loss of identity in younger generations is clear in the second stanza and younger people do not know the history of India and don’t seem to understand and appreciate the importance of this wonderful culture. The poem ‘ A different culture’ by Sujata Bhatt emphasizes the loss of identity for younger generations in India. The poet used a number of techniques effectively to show the sense of irony and bitterness towards this significant social issue in today’s society.
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