Nissim Ezekiel’s Poem Urban, Critical Analysis

Critical Analysis of the Poem:

“Urban” appeared in “The Unfinished Man”. Ezekiel is an urban poet, a singer of city life, especially the vignettes of the city of Bombay. The poet identifies himself with Bombay where he spent the major span of his life. It becomes a part of his consciousness and he acclimatised himself to its dark and dreary spectacle. “Urban” is a vivid recordation of the tension the poet feels in the city and his harmonization with his environment.

Nissim Ezekiel’s Poem Urban, Critical Analysis


This poem is autobiographical and subjective because the narrator is the poet himself. He is thoroughly acquainted with the local topography of Bombay. He is also aware of the environmental pollution - polluted river and polluted air. How vividly and picturesquely he describes imprecise and lucid style the cityscape: 

The hills are always far away. 
He knows the broken roads, and moves 
In circles tracked within his head. 
Before he wakes and has his say,
The river which he claims he loves 
Is dry, and all the winds lie dead. 

The style is highly suggestive. “Broken roads” indicate the poor condition of the maintenance of infrastructure. “Circles tracked within his head” is expressive of the poet - narrator's confused state of mind. Dry river and dead winds indicate atmospheric pollution. The poet expresses the drabness and misery in the widest commonality spread through vivid, apt and suggestive symbols and images. In this poem the poet expresses the unhappy experiences the poet personally feels in Bombay. He bewails how he lost contact with nature in Bombay: 

At dawn he never sees the skies 
Which, silently, are born again.
Nor feels the shadows of the night 
Recline their fingers as his eyes. 
He welcomes neither sun nor rain. 
His landscape has no depth or height. 

The poet has completely identified himself with the ethos of the city of Bombay and he cannot live without it. The noisy traffic of haunts him wherever he goes. He conjures up images of the city: 

The city like a passion burns . 
He dreams of morning walks, alone, 
And floating on a wave of sand. 
But still his mind its traffic turns 
Away from beach and tree and stone 
To kindred clamour close at hand.

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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