Literary Shelf

Sarojini Naidu: The Snake-Charmer

Sarojini Naidu is definitely a music-maker, a song-maker and the poems come to her in the form of musical melody of words and lyrical notes as played as she cannot help without singing and thinking of music. To read her is to feel the presence of a singer in words. She is not a poetess, but a melody-maker, a word musician and these can be sung as are not only poems. Poetry as songs, is the thing, to read her, go through the lines is to feel it. Poetry as word-pictures and musicals, we cannot let it go while going through Sarojini. The music of the words is so prominent in Sarojini. She is famous for her song-notes and poetic pictures.

We do not know if the poetess is talking with the snakes or the snake-charmer as such is the charm of reading the poem, when we go through it, marking the melody and noting it with.

Where do you lie you, my dear? It is the thing the poetess discusses it here. In which sweet bower or grove? Where lie you hidden from the eyes? You cannot go hiding from. I shall surely search you. My love, I cannot let you go.

A snake charmer, how does he keep searching and emboldening his guts? How does he try to gather on his courage so that he will catch the dreaded things? It is a matter of guts, courage, belief and faith. It is a daredevilry whether we accept it or not.

The snake-charmer says it that it cannot hide from the magic of his flute-call. Wherever be it in the scent scattered by the wild blooms or in the deeper recesses of the squirrels, it will have to come hearing the call. The snake cannot lie hidden from the searching eyes. Even though the vegetation keeps running wild covering a vast stretch so deep and impregnable, it will come listening to music, hearing the call. Even if it is under the perfume of moonlight-tangled meshes, it will come. Its hide can be there where the squirrel’s chamber is. The deeper woods glimmering with the jasmine’s bloom may be its place.

He will catch the snake as has come to catch. He will offer milk, honey and will keep in the baskets of grass and its haystacks. He will caress and shower affection on them. He will kiss them to their delight.

Whither dost thou hide from the magic of my flute-call?
In what moonlight-tangled meshes of perfume,
Where the clustering keovas guard the squirrel’s slumber,
Where the deep woods glimmer with the jasmine’s bloom?

I’ll feed thee, O beloved, on milk and wild red honey,
I’ll bear thee in a  basket of rushes, green and white,
To a palace-bower where golden-vested maidens
Thread with mellow laughter the petals of delight.

Whither dost thou loiter, by what murmuring hollows,
Where oleanders scatter their ambrosial fire?
Come, thou subtle bride of my mellifluous wooing,
Come, thou silver-breasted moonbeam of desire!

Where do you lie straying far, fleeing, running and slipping away from? You cannot my hands. I shall certainly catch you. You cannot go as thus.

Where it can hide in, he knows that, it is known to a snake-charmer as he can sense where it may lie in. He can guess about the hides and digs of the snakes smelling the soil or making the bushes and heaps and holes. What can it be the places of the snakes? How can it be the landscape? By which hollows of the oleander trees, can it be? It is his desire which brings him here. It is his love to play with the dreaded things otherwise would not have. It is his heart which but loves it catching. Where it the bride of the mellifluous wooing? Where it the silver-breasted moonbeam of desire?

In a palace-bower, so lit with mellow laughter and delight of the golden maidens, he will keep it to its charm and pleasure. Here the poetess hints towards the sides of life. What it is awful is pleasure-giving as well as is risky. To catch the snake is it not all, but to keep and rear is also a greater task to be accomplished.

 Sarojini Naidu as a poetess is of the palanquin-bearers, the churiwallahs, the flower-sellers, the fortune-tellers, the palmists and the astrologers. The folk singers, dancers, weavers, fishermen, sailors, boatmen, gypsies, bards, eunuchs and so on crowd the poetic pages of hers. The snake-charmer she has written it about, but we are not sure if she has of the bhaluwallahs, bandarwallahs, jugglers, rope-dancers and acrobats.

The words such as,  ‘the magic of my flute-call’, ‘moonlight-tangled meshes of perfume’, ‘the clustering keovas guard the squirrel’s slumber’, ‘the deep woods glimmer with the jasmine’s bloom’, etc. add to the poetic beauty of the poem.

How will she keep the snake, here lies it the dreamy description which but a snake-charmer can say it, but she is imagining it about! A small girl too can say in such a way as it is seen talking with the butterfly, the bird and the wind.

How dreamy the perception is here:

I’ll feed thee, O beloved, on milk and wild red honey,
I’ll bear thee in a basket of rushes, green and white,

The words, ‘murmuring hollows’, ‘oleanders scatter their ambrosial fire’, ‘subtle bride of my mellifluous wooing’, ‘silver-breasted moonbeam of desire’, etc. also add to the linguistic beauty of the poem.

There is a special charm of going through the poem which reminds us of the snake-charmer in search of the snakes and playing the flutes which but the snakes cannot resist it. How the places of the snakes? Where are they found? The ‘been’ music of the snake-charmer still keeps us haunting. Snakes also can be found in the jasmine-laden woods as the scent and smell draws it from, the mesmerizing aroma and odour doing the rounds.

Image (c)


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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