Enterprise by Nissim Ezekiel | Critical Appreciation

EnterpriseEnterprise by Nissim Ezekiel Analysis

There is a radical change in the sensibility of the modern poet and he reveals a new awareness of his environment. He has become more alive to surroundings and has been confronting the stark realities and bewildering contradictions in his society. Poetry is not just a hobby or a pastime for Ezekiel. In the journey of his life, poetry is not merely a companion but the chief source of discovering and organizing one’s self. He claims that his poems give a sense of continuity to his life. R. Parthasarathy states

“One finds in the poems the imprint of a keen, analytical mind trying to explore and communicate on a personal level of feelings of loss and deprivation.”

It is in his later poems that he finds harmony between technique and content. I le occupies an enviable place in the annals of Indian poetry in English.

Enterprise” is one of the finest lyrics of Nissim Ezekiel. It forms one of the ten brilliant poems published in 1959. It consists of six stanzas of five lines each. Thus it has thirty lines in all with a well-marked rhyme scheme and incantory music all its own.

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In the “Enterprise” a group of people undertake a journey moved by noble aspirations, but it all ends in failure and frustration as is usually the case with human attempts of some noble achievement. As Srinivasa Iyengar rightly points out,

“In a sense, of course, it is man’s destiny to be forever evolving, and hence to be unfinished. There is a movement, a growth, something is gained, but something is lost also. If the intellect acquires a sharper edge, something else-perhaps imagination; perhaps hope or self-conscience suffers in consequence. The shadow falls between the motion and the act and so poems like “Enterprise” become images of frustration. The Pilgrimage becomes a weary trek, by the time the goal is reached. The goal is alluring, but the process of reaching it empties the victory or its glamour and glory. “

Such is the human condition, the human predicament and man must learn to live with it as long as he is a denizen of the earth.

They start with hope, courage and determination with their minds full of noble ideas and ideals. They are out to make some heroic effort, which would, lead, as they feel, to some noble achievement. Their minds are exalted and they are not afraid of any dangers and difficulties. “All burdens” seem to them to be light. Their rage, their passion for some heroic endeavour is as hot as the hot sun above their heads. The more hotly we humans aspire, the more hotly nature tries to beat Les down. They pass through three cities where a sage had taught but do not care to find out what he had taught and what his message was. Their idealism soon degenerates into the trivial and the common place. Man cannot remain true to his own self for any length of time.

One of their friends left them. Bickering over petty matters, needless quarrels over trifles, hatred of, and hostility to those who hold different opinions are ingrained in human nature. Thus man carries the seed of his failure and frustration within his own self. They seek relief in escape and withdrawal. They seek divine assistance and blessings forgetting that God helps those who help themselves.

They are dirty and shabby as they have been deprived of such common needs as soap and are broken in spirit and bent down physically. Such is the ultimate end of all human enterprises. This is the essential truth of human life. Absorbed in their petty quarrels and tired and exhausted and frustrated, the travelers do not even hear the thunder and even ignore its significance. The redemption has to be sought either through the world or in one’s own mind. Both the realms, the outer and the inner are essential to human growth and fulfillment

If one goes through life engrossed in the affairs of the world, one will naturally be baffled at the end of the journey He who is simultaneously aware of his inner life will face no puzzlement when he suspends his worldly activities. If a man has not realized it earlier, he must realize at least at the end the journey that ‘Home’ is where he belongs that is, the inner self is the reality to which he must turn. The lyric also shows Ezekiel’s mastery over poetic form. Right words have to at the right place. Simplicity, economy and precision characterize the poet’s diction.

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