A Poem of Dedication by Nissim Ezekiel

A Poem of Dedication by Nissim Ezekiel

 Text of the poem:

The view from basement rooms is rather small, 
A patch or two of green, a bit of sky, 
Children heard but never seen, an old wall, 
Two trees, a washing line between, windows 
With high curtains to block the outward eye: 
It seems that nothing changes, nothing grows, 
But suddenly the mind is loosed of chains 
And purifies itself before the warm 
Mediterranean, which fills the veins, 
To make the body beautiful and light—
Heaviness of limbs or soul can mimic calm—
I close the eye to see with better sight. 

There is a landscape certainly, the sea 
Among its broad realities, attracts 
Because it is a symbol of the free 
Demoniac life within, 
Hardly suggested by the surface facts, 
And rivers what a man can hope to win 
By simple flowing, learning how to flow, 
And trees imply an obvious need of roots, 
Besides that all organic growth is slow. 
Both poetry and living illustrate: 
Each season brings its own peculiar fruits, 
A time to act, a time to contemplate.

The image is created; try to change. 
Not to seek release but resolution, 
Not to hanker for a wide, god-like range 
Of thought, nor the matador's dexterity. 
I do not want the yogi's concentration, 
I do not want the perfect charity 
Of saints nor the tyrant's endless power. 
I want a human balance humanly 
Acquired, fruitful in the common hour. 
This, Elizabeth, is my creation, 
Stated in the terms of poetry. 
I offer it to you in dedication.

Stanza-Wise Summary in English and Hindi:

Stanza Ⅰ:

The poet is sitting in the window of his room in the basement of a building and from there he tries to see the scene outside. He is unable to enjoy the whole picture but sees it only partly. He notices only two small patches of green grassland and some part of the sky. The voice of the children is heard but the children are not seen anywhere. However, there are only two trees and an old wall. In the houses surrounding this place are the windows which are covered with high long curtains so he cannot see anything inside them. The eyes of the man standing outside are completely blocked. The poet remembers that it seems as if here everything is as before and nothing he changed or grown because naturally growing means changing. All of a sudden his views take a turn and he feels as if his mind has become free from the material limitations. This brings to him a sense of purification and vastness like that of the Mediterranean Sea. His body and mind are refreshed as a man feels at the sea shore. He feels a peculiar beauty and brightness on him, the whole heaviness has disappeared and he enjoys complete calm of mind and body. In order to enjoy this calm better he closes his eyes and thus tries to gain complete peace.

हिन्दी अनुवाद:

कवि एक भवन के अपने सबसे नीचे के कमरे में बैठा है और वहाँ से वह बाहर का दृश्य देखने का प्रयत्न करता है । वह सम्पूर्ण दृश्य का आनन्द नहीं उठा पाता परन्तु इसका केवल कुछ ही भाग देख सकता है । वह हरी घास के दो छोटे - छोटे टुकड़े तथा आकाश का कुछ भाग देखता है । बच्चों की आवाज सुनाई देती है परन्तु बच्चे कहीं दिखाई नहीं पड़ते । फिर भी वहाँ दो पेड़ और एक पुरानी दीवार है । उस स्थान के चारों ओर के घरों में खिड़कियाँ हैं जो ऊँचे लम्बे परदों से ढकी हैं अत : उसे अन्दर कुछ भी दिखाई नहीं पड़ रहा है । बाहर खड़े व्यक्ति की आँखें पूरी तरह अवरुद्ध हो जाती हैं । कवि को ध्यान आता है कि ऐसा लगता है जैसे यहाँ पर अब भी सब कुछ पहले जैसा ही है और कुछ भी परिवर्तन अथवा विकास नहीं हुआ है क्योंकि स्वाभाविक रूप से विकास का अर्थ परिवर्तन है । अचानक उसके विचारों में परिवर्तन आता है और उसे ऐसा आभास होता है जैसे उसका मस्तिष्क सभी भौतिक सीमाओं से मुक्त हो गया है । इससे उसमें भूमध्य सागर के समान शुद्धता तथा विशालता का भाव उत्पन्न होता है । उसका शरीर व मस्तिष्क ऐसे ताजा हो जाते  हैं जैसा मनुष्य समुद्र तट पर अनुभव करता है । उसे अपने अन्दर अद्भुत सौन्दर्य व चमक प्रतीत होती है , सारा भारीपन दूर हो जाता है और वह शरीर तथा मस्तिष्क की पूर्ण शान्ति अनुभव कता है । इस शान्ति को अधिक अच्छी प्रकार अनुभव करने के लिए वह अपनी आँखें बन्द कर लेता है और इस प्रकार पूर्ण शान्ति प्राप्त करने का प्रयत्न करता है ।

Stanza Ⅱ:

The poet feels a little relief to see the scene of nature. He notices that the sea is visible physically and it is great in its broadness. It has a peculiar attraction particularly because it denotes the spirit of freedom in the world but at the same time internally it is as vast as a demon. This means that the sea symbolizes freedom and vastness at the same time. We do not love only for its surface outward realities of vastness but for its depth as well. The rivers are also significant. Man thinks that he can cross them quite easily. They simply flow. But there is some deeper lesson behind them. They teach as a lesson of continuous movement and that with a little effort the river like obstacles of life can be easily won over. The trees have their deep roots in the earth. They sustain them, hold them strongly and at the same time provide them food and life. They teach us the lesson of stability which is the only way of success in life. The poet affirms that he has given both these things in his poetry and has adopted these principles in his life. Just as the trees yield fruits in every season differently and this cycle is not disturbed so is the life of man. We should act, think and behave properly at the right time which will make our life successful.

हिन्दी अनुवाद :

कवि को प्राकृतिक दृश्य देखकर कुछ आराम लगता है । वह देखता है कि समुद्र अपनी विशालता के कारण महान् है । इसमें अद्भुत आकर्षण विशेष रूप से इसलिए होता है क्योंकि यह संसार में स्वतन्त्रता की भावना प्रकट करता है परन्तु साथ ही आन्तरिक रूप से भी यह दैत्य के समान विशाल है । इसका अर्थ यह है कि समुद्र स्वतन्त्रता और साथ ही विशालता का प्रतीक है । हम इसे केवल इसकी धरातल की विशालता की वास्तविकता के कारण ही प्रेम नहीं करते बल्कि इसकी गहराई के कारण भी करते हैं । नदियाँ भी महत्त्वपूर्ण हैं मनुष्य यह सोचता है कि वह उन्हें बहुत सरलता से पार कर सकता है । वे केवल बहती हैं परन्तु इसके पीछे एक महत्त्वपूर्ण शिक्षा भी है । वे हमें लगातार गीत का पाठ पढ़ाती हैं कि कुछ ही प्रयल द्वारा जीवन में नदियों के समान बाधाओं पर सरलता से विजय प्राप्त की जा सकती है । पेड़ों की जड़ें जमीन में बहुत गहरी होती हैं । वे उन्हें सहारा देती हैं , मजबूती से पकड़े रखती हैं और साथ ही उन्हें भोजन तथा जीवन प्रदान करती हैं । वे हमें स्थायित्व का पाठ पढ़ाते हैं और यही जीवन में सफलता का एकमात्र मार्ग है । कवि इस बात को सुनिश्चित करता है और उसने इन दोनों ही बातों को अपनी कविता में अभिव्यक्त किया है और इन्हें अपने जीवन में भी अपनाया है । जिस प्रकार वृक्ष प्रत्येक मौसम में अलग - अलग फल देते हैं और यह चक्र कभी भी नहीं गड़बड़ाता इसी प्रकार मानव जीवन होता है । हमें सही समय पर कार्य करना , सोचना तथा उचित व्यवहार करना चाहिए जो हमारे जीवन को सफल बना देगा ।

Stanza Ⅲ:     

The poet now speaks like a preacher and an instructor. He tells that man should always grow in life for which he should make continuous efforts to change. It is his duty that he does not run away from responsibilities and wishes a release from them but he must perform them with firm determination. He should never aspire for more and more things, but his thoughts cannot become wild like the gods. So his efforts in this direction will be futile and so he should not think of becoming clever like them. He has no desire to achieve concentration like a yogi or saint like great charity to gain popularity. But at the same time, he has no desire to gain unlimited power which makes man a tyrant. On the contrary, his only desire is to maintain balanced characteristics of a real man and does not wish to become greater than the common man of the world. This will make every moment of our life fruitful, useful and successful. He tells Elizabeth that this is what he has created and achieved in his life and has expressed them in his poetry. He considers it his only earning and gives all this in dedication to her.

हिन्दी अनुवाद : 

कवि अब एक उपदेशक तथा मार्गदर्शक के समान बोलता है । वह बताता है कि मनुष्य को सदैव जीवन में बढ़ना चाहिए जिसके लिए उसे परिवर्तन हेतु लगातार प्रयत्न करना चाहिए । उसका यह कर्तव्य है कि वह अपने उत्तरदायित्वों से दूर न भागे और उनसे मुक्त होने की इच्छा न हो बल्कि उसे दृढ़ निश्चय के साथ उन्हें पूरा करना चाहिए । उसे अधिकाधिक चीजों को प्राप्त करने की इच्छा नहीं करनी चाहिए बल्कि उसके विचार देवों के समान महान् नहीं बन सकते अत : इस दिशा में उसका प्रयत्न व्यर्थ ही सिद्ध होगा , उसे उनके समान चतुर बनने की भी इच्छा नहीं करनी चाहिए । उसमें योगियों के समान एकाग्रता तथा प्रसिद्धि के लिए सन्तों जैसी सहिष्णुता की इच्छा नहीं है । परन्तु साथ ही उसमें असीमित शक्ति प्राप्त करने की इच्छा भी नहीं है जो मनुष्य को क्रूर बना देती है । इसके विपरीत उसकी एकमात्र इच्छा एक वास्तविक मनुष्य के समान सन्तुलित गुण प्राप्त करने की है और वह संसार के सामान्य लोगों से अधिक महान् नहीं बनना चाहता । यह हमारे जीवन के प्रत्येक क्षण को फलीभूत , लाभदायक तथा सफल बना देगा । वह ऐलिजाबेथ को बताता है कि उसने जीवन में यही कुछ प्राप्त किया है और अपनी कविता में उसे अभिव्यक्त किया है । वह इसे अपने जीवनभर की कमाई मानता है और यह सब कुछ उसे समर्पित करता है ।

Critical Appreciation of the Poem:

Introduction to the Poem: 

Nissim Ezekiel has been universally recognized as the poet of Urban India and in most of his poems various pictures of Indian life have been portrayed. They generally present the ugliness of Indian society but at the same time, he expresses his personal ideological and philosophical views in some of the poems. A Poem of Dedication is one such poem in which the poet advises the right path of life through his own intentions. He advises that the ambition of man should not exceed the normal limits because he can neither be god or saint nor a tyrant with endless power. The best way for him is to achieve balanced humanity like a true human being and pass ordinary life.

Central Theme: 

Nissim Ezekiel is undoubtedly the greatest and most popular poet of modern Indo-Anglian literature. He always considered himself a lover of India which feeling he has frequently expressed in his poems. But at the same time it is also true that he is a scholar and a thinker which quality he has revealed in a number of his poetic compositions. A Poem of Dedication is also one such poem which reveals his philosophic turn of mind. He firmly believes in the fact that man must remain a man and any desire to get superhuman powers—godly or demoniac—will take him to wrong path. He explains this idea through various symbols and examples. He expresses his desire: 

"I want a human balance humanly 
Acquired fruitful in the common hour." 

This is the substance and central theme of the poem which he has developed from the very beginning. 

Observation of Nature: 

For Nissim nature is not only a source of joy and pleasure but it provides a number of useful lessons for our practical life. Various aspects of nature have various significance in our life. Initially, when he peeps out of the basement rooms, he is not able to perceive whole nature, rather a very small part of it. It seems to create a sense of discontent and dissatisfaction in him and he feels: 

"It seems that nothing changes, nothing grows."

It is true that whatever nature he portrays is neither effective nor analytical but it is a proof that in spite of living in Bombay and observing the urban life of India, nature remained a fascination for him. He catches Demoniac life' within the sea along with its broad realities and the organic slow growth of the trees. But instead of being deep to find any meaning behind them, he simply tells about the characteristics which man can adopt in his life. The sea is the 'symbol of the free Demoniac life' and the river is "learning how to flow'. The 'trees imply an obvious need of roots'. 


The poet seems to adopt an ironic tone to show the artificiality of modern civilization. He is not happy to stay in the basement rooms from where very little of the outside world is visible. He has cherished a desire to be free. He ironically tells that outside he notices 'windows, with high curtains to block the outward eye'. But he enjoys this freedom mentally because the physical world has failed to give him the desired peace. He says: 

"But suddenly the mind is loosed of chains." 

The other implication of such an expression is that the world and its material tendencies are nothing but chains from which it is not easy for him to be free so he enjoys this freedom in his mind and 

"I close the eye to see with better sight." 

Philosophic and contemplative mood: 

From the very beginning, the poet's contemplative mood is revealed when he feels that his mind has become free from the chains of the physical world. With this idea, he realizes a peculiar peace, beauty and lightness within him. The different objects of nature have become a symbol for him. The sea symbolises vastness and freedom, the rivers are the symbol of continuous flow and the trees stand for organic growth and express the 'obvious need of roots'. The contemplative mood becomes deeper in the desire of the poet to remain a real human being. He has no desire to become godlike or get perfect charity or gain 'tyrants' endless power' but 'I want a human balance humanly acquired'. This is a lesson to the world that man is after all a man and he should never try to cross these limits. It is always good to perform our duties: 

"Not to seek release but resolution." 


The language of the poem is quite simple and the poet has expressed his views directly, as we find in his other poems. There is no ambiguity in spite of the poet that the tone of the poet is instructive. The similes and metaphors of the sea, the river and the trees are quite appealing. He is very impressive in revealing his heart's desire directly. There are some simple worded phrases which bring home the intention of the poet particularly when he says that this is all that he has learnt from life. The twelve line stanza pattern has been adopted and thus the poem becomes very impressive. 


Saurabh Gupta

My name is Saurabh Gupta. I have designed this blog to help those students and people who are greatly interested to get knowledge about English Literature. This blog provides precious knowledge and information about English Literature and Criticism.

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