Listen to a poem by Sujata Bhat: A Different History
Listen to another poem by the same writer: Search for My Tongue
|A Different History||Search for My Tongue|
|1Great Pan is not dead;
he simply emigrated
Here, the gods roam freely,
disguised as snakes or monkeys;
every tree is sacred
and it is a sin
to be rude to a book.
It is a sin to shove a book aside
with your foot,
a sin to slam books down
hard on a table,
a sin to toss one carelessly
across a room.
You must learn how to turn the pages gently
without disturbing Sarasvati,
without offending the tree
from whose wood the paper was made.
|You ask me what I mean
by saying I have lost my tongue.
I ask you, what would you do
if you had two tongues in your mouth,
and lost the first one,
the mother tongue,
and could not really know the other,
the foreign tongue.
You could not use them both together
even if you thought that way.
And if you lived in a place you had to
speak a foreign tongue,
your mother tongue would rot,
rot and die in your mouth
until you had to spit it out.
I thought I spit it out
but overnight while I dream,
(munay hutoo kay aakhee jeebh aakhee bhasha)
(may thoonky nakhi chay)
(parantoo rattray svupnama mari bhasha pachi aavay chay)
(foolnee jaim mari bhasha nmari jeebh)
(modhama kheelay chay)
(fullnee jaim mari bhasha mari jeebh)
(modhama pakay chay)
it grows back, a stump of a shoot
What the poems briefly are about:
Sujata Bhatt’s poem “Search for My Tongue” is about what it is like to live in a foreign country, feeling disconnected from your cultural background. The poet feels, at the start of her poem, that she has lost her original language now that she is living abroad.
The poem is also about the experience of colonialism and emigration.
The lost language can be seen as representative of the loss of a cultural heritage, of values and ways of thinking. The fact that Bhatt is Asian may suggest that she is referring to how the English colonised India, imposing laws and language.
The poem is exploratory; it is a form of thinking.By the end of the poem, the poet has changed her mind. In dreams, in thesub-conscious mind, the original language still lives. The imagery of ‘your mother tongue would rot’ in the first stanza is reversed in the last stanzaas the ‘bud’ of the mother tongue re-opens.
Two famous poets, Zawgyi and Min Thuwun, who led Khit San Sarpay (Tentative
literature for a new age) movement in the colonial period play a more eminent role than
others in the development of the new poetry. Dagon Taryar, the founder of Taryar
magazine, is also an eminent poet who takes the leading role among the young budding
poets who have produced numerous poems in magazines. Ngwe Tar Yi, Nu Yin, Kyi
Aye, Min Yu Wai, Htilar Sitthu, Abioseh Nicol, Gon Win, Naung, Kumar, Patience Agbabi, Benjamin Zephaniah, etc. are the names of some poets who have composed poems in great number in this period.
Choose a poem by any of these writers that deals with the themes of postcolonialism, double identity, displacement, identity, cultural clash, etc. and prepare a presentation similar to the in the slideshare.
Work on themes, tones, microcosm vs macrocosm (characters vs context) and the literary terms used by the writer to express ideas.