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Of Tongue in English Chains by O.P. Bhatnagar

Of Tongue in English Chains opens the Pandora’s box, Prospero’s box of postcolonialism and postcolonial stuffs. A single poem like this can foreshadow Bill Ashcroft’s postcolonialism. Let us see how O.P. Bhatnagar gives his anti-thesis, how he constructs and deconstructs. The story is one of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and for to know it we need to refer to the drama and dramatization and the understanding of characters.

Caliban got colonized and alienated for a tongue. Who is this Caliban? Is he a symbol of the colonies and colonization? Is it of slavery and native culture? Shakespeare blurs us with Othello and Prospero. How did the process start in? How were the lands subjugated and brought under? This has a history of own. First, how could Shakespeare dream about? How could be apply black magic and black art? We had voices, but how could they be silenced? The minutes of Macaulay too forebode it not wrong. Even before his minutes we had a rich linguistic stock of scripted and unscripted languages. But the lack of the historical sense and to record it could not be and something we lacked in really as had been prone to foreign invasions and superstitions. Medievalism hung it heavy upon us, the load of rites and rituals and above all, the impregnable exotic tract, the vast stretch of land so diverse, ethnic, racial and multi-faceted full of dense forests, brimming rivers, rugged mountains and difficult hills, dales and valleys standing at variance with and separating from each other. It was submission with laughter to the two virtues of Prospero—aggressiveness and homosexuality and these colonized even Ferdinand as a robot for Miranda. Ferdinand even felt helpless before and so was Miranda before. But what to do under the situations, in the island of spirits, monsters, black art and magicians? 

But the new tongue did not prove out to be a witchcraft. Though it did not do any harm to, but we took time in mastering it, mastered a bit and faltered too. We held the tongue in cheek and appeared to be beetles into the cracks of walls. We could not be English even a fifth of that. But a variant like American English or Caribbean English cannot be denied. The language did not do any wrong, but instead helped in learning the magic, helping Caliban grow. We used and applied the same language in    arousing the nationalistic sentiment. The language but hinted us with regard to the shunting of old and obsolete thoughts which would have crept in, superstition and medieval thoughts to abandon them. But the lessons of history we got it from it after mustering ideas.

Is our language of Caliban? Has native culture been subjugated? Did we too do it in terms of Aryan and non-Aryan? Is it the same in the existence of Black American literature? Did Prospero not understand it? Was Prospero a colonizer? A colonizer of the mind?

Has the time come to explode the Prospero myth and to play football with the prisoners of war as did they?

Of Tongue In English Chains is a different poem in which the poet talks of deconstruction and busting of the age-old myth of colonialism. He tells in brief the history of colonization and the colonized. How was it slavery and how did it come to be eliminated?

Caliban got colonised
And alienated for a tongue.
Were we Calibans?
We had our voices
Beyond the livingness of signs.
The trick was not in the tongue
Not the minutes of Macaulay:
It was submission with laughter
To the two virtues of Prospero--
Aggressiveness and homosexuality,
Which colonised even Ferdinand
As a robot for Miranda:
An egg in sand,
A male figure in Greek art.
The new tongue didn’t prove a witchcraft
Nor a marijuana to feel psychedelic:
But an unconsummated symbol
Telescopic of revolt
Eagling out the dispenser its prey.
We kept the tongue in cheek
Like beetles living in the cracks of walls.
No more English or filth
Nor a passivity endemic to prostitution:
But a variant like American or Caribbean
To explode the Prospero myth:
And play football like Germans
With the prisoners of war.


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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