A Study of Sarojini Naidu's Two Poems by Bijay Kant Dubey SignUp
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A Study of Sarojini Naidu's Two Poems
by Bijay Kant Dubey Bookmark and Share

A poetess of the Palkiwallah and the Churiwallah taking the newly wed bride to her home and the latter selling, making womenfolk wear bangles, kanch ki churiyan 

Palanquin Bearers

Lightly, O lightly we bear her along,
She sways like a flower in the wind of our song;
She skims like a bird on the foam of a stream,
She floats like a laugh from the lips of a dream.
Gaily, O gaily we glide and we sing,
We bear her along like a pearl on a string.

Softly, O softly we bear her along,
She hangs like a star in the dew of our song;
She springs like a beam on the brow of the tide,
She falls like a tear from the eyes of a bride.
Lightly, O lightly we glide and we sing,
We bear her along like a pearl on a string.

Sarojini Naidu here in this poem describes the palanquin in which the brides used to go to their  in-laws’ home. Those were the days of the people when they used to take the bullock carts and if possible horse-carriages for conveyance and the roads too had not been so. As far as possible they used to take the palanquin marking the transport facility and the way-long journey. But it was compulsory to bid her bye after making her seated on the palki, palanquin. Ancient India or the olden world too was one of girl brides and what to say it more? There was a special caste named the Kahars who used to bear the palanquin with the bamboo poles placed on the shoulders and singing the folk song used to be on the way.

While taking the bride to her home, the palanquin-bearers turbaned and in dhoti with the palanquin on their shoulders and with the bamboo poles to take support when they kept treading the way. Lightly they bear the newly-wed daughter, the girl bride so she may reach safely. There should not be as that ails her spirit or for which she feels sad and broken. As for encouragement to bear the load or hilarity for getting the bonus and other things, in order keep themselves up in spirits, they keep singing all the way long intermittently. The bride sways like a flower in the wind of their song. Sometimes she skims like a bird on the foam of a stream. Sometimes she floats like a laugh from the lips of a dream. Gaily and gaily, they glide through covering the distance and keep singing the song with a view to bearing her like a pearl on a string. She is no less than their daughter whom they are going to reach. Softly, softly they bear her along, she hangs like a star in the dew of their song.

Palanquin Bearers is in reality a song, a bridal song, a song of the Kahars, palanquin bearers which the poetess is humming; the palanquin bearers will come and lift the palki to take the bride to her home, a flower like, a butterfly like bride so fearful and afraid of. She will smile and weep from time to time which is but natural and the bearers will try to keep her in good spirits, will try to take care of her as their daughter. This is what a father wishes and what the goer tries to keep up. Outwardly, it is a small poem of some lines and stanzas, but inwardly it has got some deeper meaning. None can say about the wayward journey, the hazards of it from men, beasts and incidents. The thugs and dacoits may loot. Beasts on the prowl sometimes come out to be sighted by and what more to say about the incidents, none can say it. The other thing is of adjustment and the new home too where she is going to just as a stranger as it happens in arranged marriages. All these are the things which are but quite natural to be felt.

The two lines add music and lyrical tonality to the poem:

Gaily, O gaily we glide and we sing,
We bear her along like a pearl on a string.

Similarly the last two of the second and last stanza goes on making music with:

Lightly, O lightly we glide and we sing,
We bear her along like a pearl on a string.

The first two lines from the first stanza describe the sentiments of the small bride beautifully which may be the feelings going within the heart of the tender girl bride or these may be things of the palanquin bearers born out of their experiences of age-old bearing:

Lightly, O lightly we bear her along,
She sways like a flower in the wind of our song;

Again the four lines from the second stanza show it how she has been compared to dew drops and the star which often keeps twinkling and to a beam on the brow of a tide:

Softly, O softly we bear her along,
She hangs like a star in the dew of our song;
She springs like a beam on the brow of the tide,
She falls like a tear from the eyes of a bride.

But apart from the outward appearance, the bridal decoration and the shy structure, there is also something which but none has come to feel it which is but the touchy side of the story of her story of life. She is but the loving daughter of some father who after leaving her own home is going to another’s home for different reasons. Had she been able to live, why would she have gone to? This is also a matter of reckoning. Her tears, falling tears none has come to feel it over the passage of time, over the lapse of years and time. Leaving her acquaintances, she is moving to a different unknown location. How will she adjust with this is also a question, how will she deal with the unknown persons whom she knows not, nor is acquainted with.

The Bangle Sellers

Bangle sellers are we who bear
Our shining loads to the temple fair…
Who will buy these delicate, bright
Rainbow-tinted circles of light?
Lustrous tokens of radiant lives,
For happy daughters and happy wives.
Some are meet for a maiden's wrist,
Silver and blue as the mountain mist,
Some are flushed like the buds that dream
On the tranquil brow of a woodland stream,
Some are aglow with the bloom that cleaves
To the limpid glory of new born leaves
Some are like fields of sunlit corn,
Meet for a bride on her bridal morn,
Some, like the flame of her marriage fire,
Or, rich with the hue of her heart's desire,
Tinkling, luminous, tender, and clear,
Like her bridal laughter and bridal tear.
Some are purple and gold flecked grey
For she who has journeyed through life midway,
Whose hands have cherished, whose love has blest,
And cradled fair sons on her faithful breast,
And serves her household in fruitful pride,
And worships the gods at her husband's side.

The Bangle Sellers as a poem reminds us of the palanquin bearers, sailors, shipmen, punkah pullers, water men, washer men, fisher men, boatmen and so on. Tagore too wrote a story about Kabuliwallah and Kipling about Gunga Din charming to the core. William Hazlitt’s Indian jugglers too can never be forgotten. We leave it the stories of Indian thugs and dacoits. But in the context of Sarojini Naidu it was Arthur Simons and Edmund Gosse who brought her to light and introduced her to a wider range of public and readers. Had Gosse not suggested writing about the things of India, Indian scenes and sights, landscapes and people, it would have been otherwise. But whatever be that, Sarojini is a poetess of love and lyricism, the mystical flame of love ever burning, ever lighting, amorous and spiritual both at the same time. Krishnabhakti not, Krihnaprem entices her with the adoration of Radha of Brindavana, the banks of the Yamuna, the kadamba trees and Krishna fluting on her mind-set. Sarojini, with her education in the West, marked the temperament as for presenting those things only which are but so endearing to the Western readers.

The poem deals with the bangle sellers going to the temple fair with the shining loads overhead willing to have a good sale of the bangles, coloured differently, red, pink, green, blue, gold flecked and so on, the glass bangles looking beautifully. The Indian churiwallah with the words, churi, churi saying and going is the thing of deliberation and discussion. The bangles for daughters, wives, mothers and small girls, all types of bangles he is with to sell and make them wear. The seller goes on calling, asking to buy and see the glistening bangles. There was also a craze for when so many stalls and shops were not then in those times of yore when the poem was written. The hawkers and peddlers used to go about peddling in the country and streets and lanes. Still now fairs attract the people and on special occasions the cosmetic goods are sold. Later, she discusses which bangles who should wear; about the colour combination. But today’s time is of the beautician and the beauty parlour who like to align the things without bothering about the age and conventions, demolishing superstitions. There was a time when the widows used to be forbidden from wearing bangles. The rainbow-tinted bangles tell of the rainbowish seven colours and the glass bangles being so delicate if pressed or out of measurement may give way or crack. These are the things to be handled delicately. The jingle and tingle of the bangles appear to be lucid and have a special charm of their own. As the rainbow gives a glowing impression of the colour mixture so do the churis give out to be roped in and sometimes kept under cover.
 
The poetess speaks in the version of the bangle sellers as well as the customers. The bangle sellers and the customers exchange views with regard to choice and the trend of buying the bangles and also as per traditions and rituals. The bangles are for happy daughters and wives. As the bindis add to so are the bangles in appearance.

With the bangles emitting the rainbowish light, the sellers go about calling for a purchase. They call, ask for to purchase bangles, meant as the lustrous tokens of radiant lives, for happy daughters and happy wives. Those who are happy and gleeful will definitely come to buy them. The bangles are delicate and bright, looking like rainbow-tinted circles of light. A young girl lives in young dreams, youthful dreams of love and life unmindful of all that comes the way. What it strikes her, she selects dreamfully; what it catches her fancy and imagination.

Some of the bangles are for a maiden’s wrist, as such silver and blue colour bangles looking like the mountain mist. Some of the bangles are light red, bud-like which seem to be dreaming or taking our dreams away to the tranquil brow of a woodland stream. Some of them aglow with the bloom shining from being in the mist of newly-cast leaves. Blue, silver and green are alright for the maidens, young unmarried maidens.

Some of the bangles are like the colour of the sunlit field of corn and these can be for a girl of a marriageable age. These will also suit the brides on the eve of their marriage with the smiles and tears of memories. Some like the flame colour, fiery red bangles or as they like to take to suit, as per the hue of the heart’s desire, bridal laughter and bridal tear. But red colours suit the married women the most representing the heart’s desire, the marriage fire and the promises made together for going together with and sharing the things and their test and ordeal.

Some are purple and gold flecked grey bangles which will suit those on the way of life, middle aged and blest with children and the husband looking after the household. Women of such an age must wear the bangles of this colour. Such an age group woman likes it not to wear the deep colour things, often busy with household affairs, husband and children; service gods and performance of rites and rituals. Her dream, desire and inclination now lie in with the children, house and husband.

The bangle sellers with the bundle into their hands or kept overhead and the sample into the hands keep calling, showing and passing through the locality:

Who will buy these delicate, bright
Rainbow-tinted circles of light?

The bangles are but the lustrous tokens of radiant lives as the people dream and live with it which is also a colour of life, a thing of beauty, love and joy:

Lustrous tokens of radiant lives,
For happy daughters and happy wives.

Some bangles are mainly for a maiden, her wrist, so dreamy to catch her fancy and imagination taking us to the mountainside for overlooking them, covered in mist and smoke:

Some are meet for a maiden's wrist,
Silver and blue as the mountain mist,

The reference to the buds tells of the light red colour which may suit the young maidens taking to the woodland stream and the natural scenario:

Some are flushed like the buds that dream
On the tranquil brow of a woodland stream,

The below-quoted lines tell of the green, light or dark green colour matching with the wrists of the young maidens:

Some are aglow with the bloom that cleaves
To the limpid glory of new born leaves

It is also a fact that the young maidens like to keep dreaming, taking life lightly as they are not aware of its joys and sorrows. Only the dreamy side cannot add to our hardcore realities.

What do the brides choose for? Let us see it:
Some are like fields of sunlit corn,
Meet for a bride on her bridal morn,

Some of the bangles resemble the colour of the marriage fire taking to saat pheras, seven rounds around the sacred fire and the sacred oath taken:

Some, like the flame of her marriage fire,
Or, rich with the hue of her heart's desire,
The bangles of such a sort tell a different story of life:
Tinkling, luminous, tender, and clear,
Like her bridal laughter and bridal tear.

One who has journeyed across and is of sometime past or some experience gathered with worldliness may opt for otherwise:

Some are purple and gold flecked grey
For she who has journeyed through life midway,
Whose hands have cherished, whose love has blest,
And cradled fair sons on her faithful breast,
Such a fellow rejoices in her household values and companionship:
And serves her household in fruitful pride,
And worships the gods at her husband's side.

To look after the family, to maintain and manage the things, handles the affairs is primarily her motto and apart from it, she has nowhere to go crossing the Lakshamanrekha.

The Bangle Sellers reminds us of the hawkers, peddlers moving around the country, into the streets and lanes of the towns as for selling bangles, the bangles of different shining colours and together with lies the different stages of life reflected through. How are our norms and values connected with? How are our sensitivities connected with? How are our spirits and feelings? Through the selection of bangles, the poetess also tells about the life of a woman since the start. How do the options, selections, impositions and tastes vary from time to time? Once she had been a girl child thereafter she turned into a young maiden and from there into a married off woman to the woman of a middle age. When the mother buys the bangles, the girl daughter also asks her mother to buy small bangles to wear and play with, such a psychological as well as feminine thing one generally comes across in patriarchal India. On feeling it, there crops up a question, is this the life of a woman, the periphery of her life, for which we get no answer at all. Whatever be that, through the bangle colours the writer has shown the colours of life and that too of a woman’s life encircling the bangles and the choice connected with showing the societal mind-set, nomenclature and protocol. A poem of colour imageries, it all about bangles, bangle-selling and purchase taking us to the country and into the streets and lanes of the past times; to temple fairs and festive occasions. Wearing bangles falls within one of the shringaras, sixteen Indian shringaras from the feminine decorative point of view. The churis are a must for an Indian bridal beauty or a country woman and from this point of view she has viewed the whole spectrum of our society and households. The lilting sound of the churis and the anklets adds to the beauty of the Indian bride if of a tender age. The fashionistas and socialites may not approve of the conventional viewpoint.

When we read the poem and keep analyzing, paraphrasing and discussing, we feel ourselves around an art gallery and seeing art exhibitions or participating in to view the beauty pageants or pictures from life. At the same time we cannot avert our gaze from peeping in beauty parlours and salons and studios. The mind also goes to the make-up, dress-up men who take time to dress and make before any rehearsals, theatrical, dramatic or choric. The credit must go to the bangle-makes and the beauticians too apart from the poets describing the scene or taking a note of that. When we read and re-read the poem, a young bridal girl in sholah shringaras stands before us, call her, whatever you like to call Chandramukhi or Suryamukhi? She herself is a jasmine standing with a pack of jasmine sticks full of heavily-scented blooms to give.

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04-Jul-2020
More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey
 
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