Nissim Ezikiel

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  • Topic: City, Urban culture, Poetry
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  • Published : December 15, 2010
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Nissim Ezekiel as a poet of “City, Modernity & Urbanity” through His contribution of “BOMBAY POEMS”

Nissim Ezekiel :- A poet and writer of city or urbanity. How poet is called as a poet of urbanity. My essay proceeds to define the same. A poet is called the poet of urbanity if his poetry is the poetry of urbanity. The poetry of urbanity means the poetry of modernity and modernity in poetry means vigorous experiments of the breakdown of cultural continuity rather than cultural vigour. Modern poetry is the poetry of revolt against tradition, and as such there is much in it i.e. experimental, ephemeral and puerile. So we can say that this dismissal of tradition also involved the rejection of conventional expectations. Modernism often stresses freedom of expression, experimentation, radicalism and even anthropological primitivism. It tends to be surrealistic, trying to seek to release the contents of the unconscious mind, often by combining unrelated images in a strange way. The subject of the modern poetry is the common man’s life, dilemmas, environment, surroundings, daily business of living, carnal irritations, anger and enjoyments etc. suffered by him. Individualism, its loss, is an important aspect of the modern poetry. The modern poetry present the realistically the doubts, the conflicts and the frustration of modern world. It is therefore pessimistic in tone. After independence, there were many changes, both political and social in the Indian society. Poetry written in a particular period does have influence of the time, Nissim was no exception, and his poetry also shows some influence of poetry of Modern poets like Eliot, Auden and Yeates. He did not have any classic background. Jews were driven out of their native land and were spread all over the world. Therefore he did not have any tradition as far as his religion. Nissim Ezekiel was out and out an urban poet. Specially, a poet of the city, Bombay, his city Ezekiel was a modern poet by virtue of the time he was born in and in which he wrote his poetry. Many of his poems from different collections deal with the modern urban life. He wrote about the‘ every man’, individualism being one of the main features of the modern poetry. But the main aspect of his being a modern poet is his representation of certain urban ethos, the environment, thought, sentiments of the essential man behind the modern urban man. Some literary historians referred to the term “Modernism” as pretentious, but it braved itself and can be described as ‘a rejection of the traditional and conventional along with a search for ‘new means of expression’ .In literature modern poets experimented with language and form; dealt with new subject matter. Nissim Ezekiel is one of those poets of the post-independence era in whose writings we discover a genuine attempt to harmonize the diverse elements of our volatile urban culture. Ezekiel was born in Bombay and has spent most of his life in the highly westernized circles of the cosmopolitan city. He claims that he began writing in English because he did not know any other language well enough to express himself. “Contemporary poets in India generally write in English when they have gone through English medium schools”, wrote Ezekiel, “I write in English for this reason and cannot write in any Indian language”.

One thing I would discuss here that Nissim Ezekiel is known as an Indian poet worldwide but what alienation and disassociation he had with his schoolmates and all, we can get to know by his some of his “Bombay” based poems . here I consider the poem Background Casually: The poem is divides into three sections which approximate the childhood , adult and old age experiences .the three sections do not merly present a chronology of significant experiences but reflections over these experiences that draw out lessons on the status of the identity of the self.

Ezekiel began with a sense of alienation with the world around him. His poetry has...
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