Indian Weavers Analysis
Indian Weavers by Sarojini Naidu is a short exquisite lyric, highlighting, with appropriate symbols and images, the great importance of the weavers’ occupation in human life. Though poor, simple and uneducated folks, they play a very significant role in the national life, and are indeed the backbone of human society. Though the poem is symbolic in nature and has a meaning in it, the poetess succeeds admirably in retaining the simplicity and tilting music of the folk song in it.
The poem, Indian Weavers is very short and very appealing; in twelve lines the poetess given a symbolic presentation of man’s journey from birth to death with remarkable economy and force. The poem is typically Indian, set in Indian background, and, as the title suggested, Sarojini Naidu has particularly the Indian weavers in mind while describing the nature and value of their work.
With inherent sympathy and lively sensibility the poetess fondly imagines that the weavers weave different kinds of cloth at different hours of the day, to be worn by different kinds of people on different occasions. At day-break they weave bright blue robes for a new-born child, at night-fall a bright multi-coloured garment for the marriage-veiled of a queen, and in the chill moonlight a white cloth for ‘a dead man’s funeral shroud.
The moods of the weavers also change with the types of garments they weave: in the morning they wave a ‘gay garment’, and in the evening a ‘bright’ garmen’t: both the words ‘gay’ and ‘bright’ suggest an inner happiness and joy in their hearts in doing their work. But in the cold moonlight they become ‘solemn and still’ for then they weave a white cloth for the funeral shroud of a dead man. Whatever might be the theories about death it is undeniable that parting is always sad and painful. After death a man goes, as Hamlet says, to that-
“Undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns “
Thus, we see, that Sarojini Naidu admirably succeeds in relating industry to human life and human feeling, and this is the special feature of this poem.
The poem, however, is not a simple as it appears to be, and under the surface meaning there is also a deep hidden meaning of great philosophical and allegorical import. The different kinds of cloth woven by the weavers at different times of the day are symbolic of the very pattern of life itself- both grave and gay.
Indian Weavers is an allegory of man’s life and as, C. D. Narasimhaiah says, “Here, in twelve lines, in an elliptical, allusive, and symbolic presentation of life’s journey from birth to death” (The Swan and the Eagle). Symbolically the weavers are not simple poor folks, working at all hours of the day to earn their livelihood, and producing clothe to be worn by man from his birth to death. They are the Fates of Greek mythology, weaving the web of life itself. In Greek mythology Fates are three goddesses (sisters)-Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos who control man’s life and destiny, and determine his birth, life and death. Clotho spins the thread of human life, Lachesis determines the length of the thread of life, and Atropos cuts the thread of life.
Explaining the poem in the Indian context, the weavers stand for the Hindu Trinity-Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh. They are the lords of man’s destiny, and they work endlessly like the weavers weaving from morning till night. Brahma, the lord of creation, sitting on a lotus coming out of the blue seas, represents the blue of the halcyon wings of the first stanza; Vishnu, the god of prosperity-marriage, wealth and affluence-represents the splendor of the peacock plumes of the second stanza; and Mahesh (Shiva), the god of destruction and death, besmirched in ash, corresponds with the white feather of the bird of the third stanza.
They are all depicted as engaged in their different jobs of wearing a child’s robes, marriage-veils, and funeral shroud, symbolizing birth, prosperity, and death. The relation of three different times-day-break, night-fall, and moonlight with the cloth woven in each, makes the symbols very appropriate and appealing.
Indian Weaver is in question answer form. In each stanza a question is asked of the weavers in the first two lines and answered by hem in the remaining two lines. It contains three quatrains, in which each verse is a tetrameter (i.e. a verse of four measures or fret), with variations of lambs and trochees. The rhyme, scheme is a a b b. The poem is remarkable for its simplicity of language and diction, sympathetic presentation of the weavers’ lives, symbolic and philosophic texture, colourful picture of Indian life and chaste music. The weavers render an invaluable service to humanity, and looking from the symbolic and philosophic point of view, their work assumes an importance of its own.
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