A Different History. Poem Essay

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A different History
Sujata Bhatt

The poem 'A different History', written by Sujata Bhatt is written post the British colonisation of India. The poem is based on Indian religion and a bit of Greek mythology. The poem talks about different cultures, mainly Indian and the colonisation of India. As Bhatt has experienced three different cultures; the Indian culture, the American culture and the German culture, the poem reflects on the differences in cultures and delves into mainly the Indian culture. The poem explores how the poet has evolved while moving from country to country and even delving into other religions. The poem also deals with conveying Bhatt's confusion surrounding her own identity, using many stylistic devices such as an allusion the a great god from Ancient Greek mythology. She uses the poem to push her readers to ask themselves one question: "Who am I, really?" The aim of analysing the poem is to understand where Sujata Bhatt is coming from; an outsider looking back into the world she once grew up in... Looking back into 'A Different History'.

The title relates to the poem in the way that it can be said to be about different histories, different cultural backgrounds but also about Sujata Bhatts own past. In another context, it could also said to be about history itself, relating to Greek mythology and Indian religion that is centuries old. As a child, Bhatt had to move from country to country and may be reminiscing about how life would have been if she had never left India. A history different to the one she had experienced.

The poem contains 29 lines and is therefore not a sonnet. There is no regular rhyme scheme and the rhythm varies. The first stanza has 18 lines in no particularly ordered structure. There is also no rhyme because the author does not want to achieve a rhythmic effect but rather concentrates on the message she wants to send. The poem also starts with a statement and ends with one.

“Great Pan is not dead”
The first line is a metaphor. The effect of this is to make an emphatic point to the reader that the God Pan is not dead as a statement rather than as an opinion. The word dead here is a kinesthetic imagery as the person cannot move and there is the idea of being static. It can also be an organic imagery because the God Pan is said to be in a state of trance rather than dead. As Pan was a satyr as well as the protector of nature, we can see that the author is very much in touch with her surroundings and in admiration of the environment. Ending the line with a semi-colon indicates that that Bhatt will continue to elaborate on her statement.

“he simply emigrated to India”
In this line Bhatt uses a very casual and conversational tone by using the informal word “simply”. The words “to India” are written on a separate line and are indented to lay emphasis on where the Great Pan has migrated to and also to show the change in setting. There is also a common idea that mythology enthusiasts like to make, which is that the gods move to where the flame of civilisation is burning the strongest. This may explain why Pan moved from Greece, who was gradually sucked into the modern world, to India, where many ancient customs still exist. There is an image of how two different cultures, or in this case, religion and myth, can seamlessly blend in harmony. There is a slight hint of humour behind the words because Greek gods and goddesses are very rarely linked to India, a land already filled with their own deities.

“Here, the gods roam freely”
Sujata Bhatt uses the word 'here' to indicate India . The tone in this line is very informal and casual as though it is only in India that gods have freedom. The fact the Bhatt does not capitalise the 'g' in gods shows that she does not want to use a very serious or formal style of writing. She makes it seem as though the gods are common people and not powerful entities. “Roam freely,” is another kinesthetic...
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