Vivek\’s diary

“To India – My native Land” by Derozio

I am not a poet and cannot write poetry but I am capable of appreciating good poems. I had started taking English poetry reading seriously during my class (grade) nine and ten, when we were to study a whole collection of poems as a part of our English syllabus (in I.C.S.E). Poetry had a profound influence on me and to this date I remember quite a few poems from my English poetry text book. I wish to post some of those poems here without which this diary will be so incomplete.

I am not aware of any copyright issues but would like to declare in this post that unless otherwise stated, no works of poetry published on this blog belong to me and I shall make every effort to mention the name of the poet clearly for each poem I post here.

About the Poet

(Short summary based on this Wikipedia article)

To India – My native land is a poem by Henry Louis Vivian Derozio. Derozio lived during the early 19th century. He was a teacher, a scholar, a poet and an academician of Eurasian and Portuguese descent. He considered himself to be an Indian and encouraged free thinking among his students. He oversaw the publication of a journal in which his student wrote against the British rule in India, orthodox Hindu practices and favored emancipation of women. The journal was banned and Derozio lost his job due to his unorthodox views.

His opposition to the British and the orthodox Hindu practices alienated him from both the society as well as the government. He spent his last days in penury, starvation and died of cholera at the age of 22.

It’s sad to know such a great thinker and poet had a sad end. Derozio was one of the few people who used to think much ahead of their times and is remembered as an intellectual anarchists of his times.

To India – My Native land

My country! In thy day of glory past

A beauteous halo circled round thy brow,

And worshipped as a deity thou wast.

Where is that glory, where that reverence now?

Thy eagle pinion is chained down at last,

And groveling in the lowly dust art thou:

Thy minstrel hath no wreath to weave for thee

Save the sad story of thy misery!

Well – let me dive into the depths of time,

And bring from out the ages that have rolled

A few small fragments of those wrecks sublime,

Which human eyes may never more behold;

And let the guerdon of my labour be

My fallen country! One kind wish from thee!

– Henry Louis Vivian Derozio

Brief explanation

In this poem, Derozio personifies India and talks to her in a monologue. Derozio talks about the glorious past of India, is evidently unhappy with the British rule in India and refers to the same in the line “The eagle pinion is chained down at last”, where eagle refers to India (It is said that in early days of British rule foreigners referred to India as the Golden Eagle or Golden bird as it was very rich and one of the largest producer of gold and diamonds). Derozio wishes to bring back the glorious past of India by “diving into the depths of time” and bringing back “small fragments of those wrecks sublime”.

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October 9, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

13 Comments »

  1. Though the poem is very good, it is somewhat degrading to think that India is either a land of the past or the land with the promising future but never a land of the present considering the fact that many great spiritualists have conveyed the importance of being in the present.

    Comment by Hiren | October 9, 2006 | Reply

  2. Welcome back Hiren,

    If you ask me what is the most important time? I’d say present because it is the only thing in our hand, when we have the ability to exercise our mental and physical power to improve upon the past and prepare (for) the future.

    However, I would also say that past, present and future are equally important as they are inseparably interrelated. Any action that is being performed in the present cannot be defined without reference to its trail or source in the past and its implication in the future. If one tries to single out the present, it has no meaning and basic questions like why, how, what and when cannot be answered.

    With reference to the poetry, as per my inference, the poet does not label India as a land of the past. Due to relentless exploitation, India had degraded (or as the history books say: bled white) during the British rule. On one front India intelligentsia was being exposed to (the then radical) western ideology and on the other they were realizing that their society is mired in orthodox/evil beliefs and rituals (e.g. sati). This may and in many cases did lead to development of inferiority complex among the students who would under such a pressure come to regard the British rule as correct and fail to see that they were being denied their fundamental right: freedom.

    During his days, Derozio, on one hand was trying to expose the evils in society and infuse free-thinking in his students and on the other he wanted to keep up the morale of his students so that their ability to think rationally is not overcome by emotions or embarrassment of nay sort. What could be a better way to do that, than to remind them of the glory of the past? From time immemorial, past has been very powerful in determining and shaping the events that take place in the present and everyone uses it to make ends meet.

    Therefore, the poet may appear to view the past with great reverence, but to me it appears to be a necessary exercise for establishing a cause–affect sequence. It is a reminder which encourages one to move ahead, perform and tell them that there is a lot to catch up with.

    Regards,

    Vivek

    Comment by stubbfanatic | October 10, 2006 | Reply

  3. Hi Vivek

    I love this poem too… I had forgotten the lines and came across your diary when I was searching for it, thanks!

    just a couple of minor corrections if my memory serves me right…

    1. Thy (not the) eagle pinion is chained down at last
    2. Well – let me delve (not dive) into the depths of time,
    3. my fallen country! one kind wish FOR thee!

    thanks again,

    Lalitha

    Comment by lalitha | November 3, 2006 | Reply

  4. Hello Lalitha. Thanks for the inputs. I just procured the text book that contains this poem to read it and the others.

    1. It is indeed “thy” and I have made the change.
    2. Text book says “dive” (and it sounds ok), so I will keep it.
    3. Text book says “from” but “for” sounds right. However, I did not change it.

    Thanks once again for the inputs and visiting my blog.

    Regards,

    Vivek

    Comment by stubbfanatic | November 3, 2006 | Reply

  5. Hi Vivek
    Thanks for reproducing the poem..It’s indeed a sad commentary of the turbulent times that Derozio saw. It is also a poignant reminder that we need to love our much more than we do now. Some of the Anglo Indian community and the missionaries who visited India indeed fell in love with the country,, it’s richness & heritage.
    My grandfather, Late Anathbandhu Sen. a great scholar, was a great fan of Derozio, and had translated the above poem to Bengali, our mother tongue. I have still kept this translation safely, so many years after my grandpa’s demise. Thanks again.

    Comment by Cherry | November 15, 2006 | Reply

  6. Hello Cherry. Indeed we must never forget the sacrifices made by our predecessors and the hardships in which they lived during those times. I hope to bring up more such poems on my blog and immortalize them in the minds of my readers.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and visiting my blog.

    Regards,

    Vivek

    Comment by stubbfanatic | November 15, 2006 | Reply

  7. dearest uncle vivek ,
    our teacher asked us to say a patriotic poem and i chose urs
    its nice
    thanx
    from ur wellwisher
    vallari

    Comment by vallari | January 30, 2007 | Reply

  8. Hi Vivek
    Thanks a lot for the reproduction of such a good work.I had only a few lines in mind of this beautiful poem ,which i read back in class eight.

    Comment by anshul | February 7, 2007 | Reply

  9. a good poem . im in 8 class. u suggest i should make corrections made by mr vivek

    Comment by charudhi | May 16, 2007 | Reply

  10. thanks it will help us in our project
    and remind about our history

    Comment by shilpa | July 9, 2007 | Reply

  11. […] StubbornFanatic for putting it […]

    Pingback by Swadheenta Diwas « kpowerinfinity | August 15, 2007 | Reply

  12. No, I am studying this poem…in fact my english exam is tomorrow…and from thee is right….

    Comment by Noopur | September 27, 2007 | Reply

  13. Tahnks for this site .It is of great help to my son who is in Cl.8 and has this poem in his syllabus.

    Comment by Anindya Dutta | November 6, 2007 | Reply


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