Nissem Ezekiel’s poem “The Patriot” can be – and has been – read in at least two conflicting ways: as a satire and mockery of the speaker of the poem, and as an affectionate portrayal of the poem’s speaker. According to the first view, the poem implicitly ridicules the speaker’s use of the English language, making that use seem awkward and uninformed. According to the second view, the poem presents the speaker in such a way that we cannot help but admire him (or her) by the end of the work. Of these two views, the second seems more convincing. If the poem had been written to satirize and ridicule the speaker, surely Ezekiel could have made that intention clearer. Besides, little that the speaker actually says seems worthy of severe mockery. The speaker seems to be a person with a generous outlook on life and on other people. The title of the poem is worth considering, and, by the end of that work, the title seems rich with significance. The second line of the poem seems to imply that the speaker dislikes the kind of patriotism that leads to fighting. In the ensuing lines, however, the speaker seems to express strong Indian patriotism and rejection of non-Indian influences: Why all people of world
Are not following Mahatma Gandhi,
I am simply not understanding.
Ancient Indian Wisdom is 100% correct,
I should say even 200% correct,
But modern generation is neglecting-
Too much going for fashion and foreign thing. (4-9)
In the next stanza, however, we learn that the speaker reads an Indian newspaper written in English in order to improve his or her English, and so any sense of fierce Indian patriotism is undercut. The speaker’s quotation of Shakespeare in line 16 might seem part of the poem’s mockery of the speaker, or it might more plausibly be seen as an endearing touch, showing the speaker’s desire to appreciate and use the language of another culture. Later the speaker offers his or her interlocutor an Indian drink (lassi) and proclaims that it...
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