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Re-reading Nissim Ezekiel's History to Paraphrase It

We do not know if there will be a poet of the stature of Nissim Ezekiel in the history of modern poetry as for clarity of thought and expression, the idea inculcated in and he laying them bare simply. A poet of simple things he expresses so simply his thoughts and ideas and on reading him, we think it within if poetry can be as such. He is so clear, so open, this you can get at from the time you sit for taking to, reading him.

How much ahead of time he was that he thought of history and its tools, how is history written and who writes it after all! How has he personified history! How his impression of history? Let us see what does he think about history? Perhaps he is speaking about historiography, the sources of history and archival studies.

A blind man walking with the crutches, old and retired who cannot about time, is the thing as and when we think of history. Holding the rags to beat the cold, he neither greets nor shows it any gesture. He turns and walks away. The earth is as it was, as it will be. What to imagine and how to? The image is near, we can see, but they will not let us understand. If the earth is, history will be written and if the earth is not, history will not be. Everything will be bundled to be kept at bay and the dump-yard will say it. Battle-cries so full of fury, desire to conquer, prowess, valour, chivalry, revenge, bloodshed, conspiracies plotted and hatched during the murder of King Duncan and Macbeth trembling with fear holding the bloody dagger in hand and Lady Macbeth rebuking him as for being timid, what to say it about? How are the things waged? What hastens it? The poet does not know where it will end his fear as the mind shifts to Bethlehem and Moscow. Does he hint towards the communists regimes and the clash of powers? Rumours add to when conspiracies are hatched, suspicion aroused, enmity, rivalry and egoism prevail upon. Is the earth a battle-ground of history? Is history written properly? Who knows it history? How is it written?

History of man, history of time, history of earth, how our histories! And who knows what? What you call history is not, what they say it or have written it as we know it not.

What you say it is not history. History lies it earthed, caved in. The wraps of mystery fold it down. The Mayan civilization, what more do we know it? We have a colonizers’ version of history. Do  we have a native version of history? Do we have a history of the colonized peoples?

What the mob says, he has to go by it, as we have seen it in Julius Caesar drama. While turning over the pages of history, we think in terms of the kings and dynasties. We attribute it all to individuals, how their faiths and beliefs be.
But the gunmen hold the key to all and even if we do not like to believe, they will make it accepted. But bury the old things and to go for a new beginning is the story of life and barring it what can we do? The rocks, stones and mountains carry the angelic voice to comfort the conflicting soul and as a resource the story starts it again with the flow and streaming of the  river as is the Divine bounty and blessing seen in the clouds gathering over Himavant and bursting with Da, Datta, Dayadhyam, Damayata as seen in Eliot’s The Waste Land and in Mahapatra’s Dhauli as an aftermath to the Kalinga war. For no cause we commit the sins to be absolved. Each day the curtain hangs it over and we see it the world afresh with a new beginning to make. D.H. Lawrence too shows it with his description of the Etruscan Places.

A blind man standing with his crutches, old,
Retired, does not know the time of day,

And cannot hold his rags against the cold,
Returns no greeting, turns and walks away

Is what the earth was born for. The image
With its freight of dreams is always near,
Whispers to the air a formless language:
Will Bethlehem or Moscow end my fear?

It all comes back to individual man
And what he chooses; always, somehow,
A failure, and knowing all he can,
Accepts the mob or worships snake and cow.

Consorting gunmen hold the final fuse,
But by the hard unwelcome stone a dream
Of angels sings the abstract right to choose
And starts from rocks an unexpected stream.

After reading the poem, we get swayed, drifting from it to stray into the realms unknown and the domains unfurrowed. We do not know if it is a Western concept or theory or an Indian notion. The bards’ eulogy lacks in facts. The history written by the victors too is not what they say it the courtiers and the royal chroniclers.  We have written about the Partition without hearing them. Have we listened to the Partition people? How the tales of the Partition? How were the lands partitioned? This we know it not. How was India plundered and looted by foreigners, invaders and attackers? The history of the freedom movement we have heard it from the leaders, not from the fighters and nationalists jailed.  Khushwant Singh and Jayanta  Mahapatra too have shown it through their histories and poetry pieces. The blunder and hide of history cannot be shown as lame excuses as are the lapses and errors of justice which John Galsworthy points it out. New thoughts and ideas have opened our mind. The age of anxiety, Auden talks it about, Eliot, war-devastated this sterile and barren world of ours and Beckett the absurdity of everything. Fanatics and fundamentalists, their crusades and the victory of the sword we count it not for an authentic narration.
 

01-Apr-2023

More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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