The Patriot. Robert Browning. Appreciation.

19.

The Patriot. Robert Browning. Appreciation by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 13th May 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/1i9q667s/
Posted in Wikinut  Poetry,

 

Browning was a skilled poet, an expert in creating frantic situations in poetry. In the Pied Piper of Hamelin it was mysterious loss of all children from a town due to a word not being kept. In My Last Duchess it was killing of a long line of innocent duchesses by a jealous duke, the story being told without even presenting a second character. In The Patriot, it is adoration by people immediately followed by chaining, dragging through the streets, stoning by crowds and execution in the gallows.

Majestic portrayal of fall from authority and subsequent condemnation.

Young Browning. A Painting.

Robert Browning in his poem ‘The Patriot’ describes the different treatments the same man receives from the same people within a course of one year. First he was received by the people royally like a patriot. After one year he was dragged through the streets by the same people and given a scornful send-off to his death as a condemned man. The poet does not tell exactly what crime was committed by such a famous and worshipped man to be sent to the gallows within one year. Perhaps he might have turned a traitor to his country or people, or might have done much favouritism and corruption for his friends while he was in power, or else people might have made a serious mistake in judging him.

People’s applause and esteem is but a momentary bubble soon to explode.

Royal reception of a popular hero.

We have examples of a Caesar returning victoriously after an Egyptian Tour, received jubilantly by people inRomeand declared by Senate as the Dictator for the entire Roman lands and after that, within days, assassinated by a senator in front of all senators fearing for the likely chance of him declaring himself as an Emperor of Rome. We also have before us the example of the Oracle of Delphi proclaiming none was wiser than Socrates and then Socrates being assassinated by the City Council of Athens for a puny charge of corrupting their youth. Execution of Sir. Thomas Moore, the modern day Socrates also is vivid in our memories. History is so full of such admonition messages from the past that now we all know that people’s applause is but momentary and that their admiration shall not be taken into account in assessing a man’s real worth.

We have fetched the Sun for you: Need anything more?

Only moments would be needed to change this mood.

When the patriot was received for the first time by people, they went mad and spread on his path roses mixed with evergreen laurels. House roofs were filled with people just to have a glimpse of their worshipful hero. Lights burned all night and flags fluttered freely in churches. Sweet sounds of bells filled the atmosphere. People seemed to be such loyal to and eager to please their hero then that had he asked for the Sun, it would immediately have been fetched and they would have asked him, if he needed anything more.

In the rain, hands fettered, stoned all the way, dragged to the death-post.

Price of ethereal love paid in earthly blood.

We learn from the poem that the patriot did many impossible things for the people which made them pleased. ‘Nought man could do, have I left undone’, the poet writes. The patriot did everything for his people that a man could do. All of a sudden people turned against him and decided to hang him publicly as a punishment for his crimes committed during one year. Everything he did during one year had become crimes when viewed from another angle. Now we see him hands fettered, suffering in rain, stoned all the way, being dragged to the death post. And now there is nobody on the roof-tops to watch the spectacle. All have gone to the death-post at Shambles’ Gate to witness the best sight of hanging him. What an unpredictable twist of human attitude!

A condemned and executed man is received to the merciful hands of God.

Crucified for delivering the message of love.

We have seen this exact scene in history a few centuries before, in the mountains of Gagultha. A human representative of the creator and moulder of mankind, an innocent carpenter, was executed on the cross for the crime of loving mankind. On his way to death, the patriot has a few such consoling thoughts. A man honoured in this world may most likely have to suffer in heaven. But a man who is unjustly tortured and punished in this world is sure to get God’s love in the other world. Thus, though on the brink of his death, the patriot is solaced enough at the thought of being really safe in the hands of God within minutes.

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

________________________________

Dear Reader,

You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at: https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

http://knol.google.com/k/psremesh-chandran/-/2vin4sjqlcnot/0#collections

Tags

Appreciations, British Poets, English Literature, English Poems, English Poets, English Songs, P S Remesh Chandran, Poetry, Reviews, Robert Browning, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Songs, The Patriot

Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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Comments

Sara
27th May 2011 (#)

Thanks for this really useful article.

Rathnashikamani
17th Jun 2011 (#)

Excellent analysis by an excellent editor.

PSRemeshChandra
17th Jun 2011 (#)

Browning painted such an excellent and majestic scene with words that it was very easy for me to remember it and redraw. Moreover I did an experiment with this poem. When I functioned also as a journeyman lecturer, I taught this poem while reading it for the first time. My first thrill of reading, actually singing it for the first time could therefore be transferred somewhat to the students. They said it was a pleasant new experience for them, but they never knew I was reading the poem for the first time. Therefore I still remember vividly my analysis of the poem then. Another time I did the same thing with a famous short story, Anton Chekhov’  ‘The Bet’. Me and the whole band of learners were carried away and could not speak or look at others for several minutes. It is not the skill of the reteller but the excellent editorial powers hidden in the writer that make readers spellbound.

 

 

No More Hiroshimas. James Kirkup. Appreciation.

11.

No More Hiroshimas. James Kirkup Poem. Appreciation by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books,Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 23rd Mar 2011   Short URL http://nut.bz/c-q37yc7/
Posted in Wikinut  Poetry, Drama & Criticism

 

Mankind hates to destruct, in spite of the destructive traits inherent in man. In his heart, man is a good being who likes to preserve mankind’s achievements intact for the posterity. But politics is often not led by men, but by mobs and crowds. Wars when fought by single persons have always turned to be good to this world: Socrates, Tolstoy, Louis Pasteur. When fought by people, they turned hell loose in this world.


292 years free of war in a history of 5500 years.

US bombers moving to Japan over Mount Fuji.

In the history of mankind, one will find no desire which is older and stronger than the desire for a world without wars. For centuries, peace in this world meant only the interval between two wars. Swiss historian Jean- Jacquess Bebel calculated that out of the 5500 years’ history of the world, only 292 years remained free of any kind of wars. Two World Wars emanated from the soil ofGermany. But in Europe the guns are silent now. People hope that the clock of history won’t be turned back again.

Sumee-Ko, War And Peace and The Flowers Of Hiroshima.

Had it not been Imperialism!

Arms-Limitation, Anti-War Literature and Detente brought about this favourable situation. Countless novels such as War And Peace, Sumee-ko and The Flowers Of Hiroshima, and dozens of plays including Henrik Ibson’s Ghost moulded human minds to remain synchronized with upheavals and outbreaks of political profiteerism and in the midst of chaos, practise the negative virtue of tolerance. Wilfred Owen and James Kirkup were just two of the hundreds of committed poets who added the influence of poetry too to the goodwill of this world-wide movement.

Three-headed fishes and children with no head at all : The balance-sheet of a mega ton blast.

The pre-war serenity in Japan.

The atom-bomb which blasted inHiroshimain the Second World War wiped out millions of people from the face of the earth for ever. Millions more survived only for being subjected to life-long agony. Three-headed fishes and children with no head at all were no wonder in the affected areas for so many years. Radio-activated patients overcrowded hospitals in the cities and villages, the sustaining and affording of whom became a national problem, stealing into the already scant national resources. Catastrophe continued through generations. Destructions of war were great, the relics of which were, and are, exhibited in Museums and War Memorials to remind the world that wayward politicians no more care for humanity.

The poet and traveller who finally arrives in Japan to settle.

Hiroshima City before the bombing.

James Falconer Kirkup was a poet, translator and travel-writer who was born inEngland. His poems, plays, novels and autobiographies made him a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. After a few years of an eventful life in the island, he travelled through and resided in Europe,America, Far East and finally reached Japan where he settled for 30 years and taught English Literature in several Universities. He was very skilled in writing Haiku Poems and was much respected by the Japanese. Even the Emperor of Japan and the Empress invited him to recite poetry in their presence and he was presented with many prestigious awards there. ‘No More Hiroshimas’ is his famous poem in which he reveals to the world the commercialized post-war faces of Japan.

A river once polluted, refuses to be rehabilitated and remains sad.

Hiroshima after the atomic blast.

In the poem we see the poet arriving at a railway station in the reconstructed city ofHiroshima. He quite forgets which city it is, since all looks similar in the post-warJapan. It resembles any other town inJapan, since all towns are noisy, muddy ramshackles alike after the war. In the dim dew-falling evening, he walks towards the city proper. Neon exhibits of traders attract his attention. They are advertising Atomic Lotion for hair fallout. It looks ridiculous to the much travelled poet, but who knows the pain and frustration of those whose hair fallout rapidly daily? Just as Oliver Goldsmith said in hisDesertedVillage, ‘trade’s unfeeling train had usurped the land and disposed of the swaine.’ Whatever had remained unsellable for centuries in the pure and proud tradition of the Japanese were being made sellable to attract tourists, the sustaining revenue of a wrecked nation. He passes the rows of fruit stalls and meat stalls, observing the scenes around him on his way and finally reaches the river. The face ofHiroshimawas changing. Losses were recompensed and destructions repaired. Everything was being restored or rehabilitated to its former position. But the river alone ‘remains unchanged and sad, refusing any kind of rehabilitation.’ The river symbolizes the stream of life in the city. Once polluted, it can never be rehabilitated into its former position. ‘It was the pride of a bold peasantry that was broken and hurt.’

A traveller and a poet fights in a dilapidated hotel room.

A melted down clock from the Ground Zero.

In the city proper, the poet finds life splendid, busy and ornamental. People seem to have forgotten what have happened. In some shops, cheaply decorated mini models of the famous, bombed Industry Promotion Hall are on display for sale. The indecent modernity of the tourist hotel in which he stays displeases him. The very twisted stair cases which have witnessed the heavy blast appear that they may collapse and fall anytime. He feels ‘the contemporary stairs treacherous, the corridors deserted and peopleless, his room in the hotel an overheated mortuary and the bar, a bar in darkness.’ It should be specially noted here that the traveller poet is uncertain as to whether he should grieve or relish the unrepaired state of the heavily damaged and dilapidated hotel of his stay. The traveller in him craves for comfort and the poet in him longs for nostalgic status-quo.

The power to forget is the greatest faculty of the oriental mind.

Japanese surrender before the U.S.

When a nation and a people feel that they are wronged, it is common consensus that they have a right to be angry. But in the city ofHiroshimathe poet sees that it was evident that the people forgot everything too soon. Their sorrow seems short-lived. He has his own European logic in such matters and is angry that their anger too is dead. He is plain to speak that anger should not die and should be kept alive till war-destructions are avenged. ‘To forgive is to cut branches of the tree; but to forget is to lay axe to the very roots’: though not his lines, it reflects his philosophy. It has to be noted here that the poet was born and brought up inBritain, had travelled through and lived for years in Europe,Americaand the Far East and had only arrived inJapanrecently. He knows nothing about the workings of the Oriental Mind. Oriental Mind means magnanimity, deliquescence and tolerance. Had it been otherwise, great philosophies such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism would not have originated from there. Also if it had not been so, those places would have become the vast burial grounds of the colonial British. Had man remembered everything from his birth, his brain would have become overcrowded to the point of bursting itself. That is why Nature provided man with the power to forget as a pressure-valve, the very essential to the oriental mind.

‘How times are altered, trade’s unfeeling train usurps the land’.

Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima.

But in Japan, instead, atomic peace was seen geared to meet the demands of the tourists’ trade. War relics were renovated for promoting tourism industry, adding new charm, loveliness and nobility to those relics. But the poet feels that this renovation is a shame and indignity to those relics. As indignated already, they are beyond all hope of further indignation by anyone.

Who will not weep if they see it?

Tranquillity restored.

It is when he reaches the ParkOf Peacethat the emotional poet finds something perfectly appealing to his orthodox tastes. It is the only place in HiroshimaCitythat rouses respect in his mind. It is a monument for the children who were blasted away by mankind’s crime. The various exhibits in the War Memorial Museum moved him and he wept. Melted bricks and slates, photos of various scenes after the blast and other relics of the explosion were arranged there for all the world to see. The other relics which made the poet weep were stop-watches all stuck at that destined time, burnt clothing, charred boots, twisted buttons, ripped kimonos, atomic rain-perforated blouses and the cotton pants in which blasted boys crawled to their homes to bleed and breathe their last. According to the poet, they are the only memorials of the war, worth viewing. When we come to this part of the poem, we are not inclined but forced to agree with the poet in that war remains shall not be sold and grief commercialized, however poor we are. The poet has perfectly convinced us of this. War relics are the properties of our dead, those people who lived and played and laughed with us. When death occurs in a house, it is when we see the clothes worn by the gone person hanging there that a lump is caused in our throats and we weep. It is a feeling which shall not be written, told, expressed; a feeling so sacred and private to the very soul of humans that even its utterance is a crime.

________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

________________________________

Dear Reader,

You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at:

https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

http://knol.google.com/k/psremesh-chandran/-/2vin4sjqlcnot/0#collections

Tags

Appreciations, Atomic Disasters, Atomic Fallout, British Poets, English Poets, English Songs, James Kirkup, Japan In War, Literature And Language, No More Hiroshimas, Nuclear Blasts, Nuclear Hollocausts, P S Remesh Chandran, Poetry, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Second World War

Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

Share this page

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Comments

Rathnashikamani
31st Mar 2011 (#)

Great tribute to James Kirkup, the compassionate poet.

Also let us hope for no more Fukushimas.

 

 

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