Life Signs - Poem and Summary By Mahapatra

Topics: Poetry, Solar eclipse, Evocation Pages: 2 (415 words) Published: December 2, 2013

the day dims. When I open and shut my mouth
the darkness chokes inside.
The sad light pushes against a bullock-cart-driver's whip
which rests in a corner of the corridor,
safe from the black pressure of dragging ribs.
a country
total solar eclipse
It was the drawn-out cry of day
that left behind no echo,
day that became meek as a frightened child.
A banner of pale human skin
fluttered on top of the temple of Jagannath
the vase
a monsoon day fable
The fable at the beginning of the monsoon
echoes alone, like a bell ringing in a temple
far from home.
in the fields of desolate rice
captive air of chandipur on sea
lost children of America
dead river
life signs
again one day walking by the river.

-- Jayant Mahapatra

Summary of “Life Signs”

“Life signs” is the title poem of the volume Life Signs. The father-son relationship has been explored quite extensively and intensively in Indian English poetry, by Ramanujan, Parthasarathy, Shiv. K. Kumar and others and “Father” poems have become even a sub-genre of Indian Poetry in English. “Life Signs” captures the central preoccupation of Mahapatra’s poetry, the irrevocable influence of the Father (by extension, the hoary tradition of the land) and the anxiety of the son-persona (the modernist, rationalist, unbeliever poet, by extension) to be freed of it Structurally, the poem is “a loosely connected set of evocative signs rather than a system and discourse” and such a poem with shifting metaphors may challenge neat interpretation; yet it “can have a great power to convey a highly complex experience and can acquire haunting beauty” (G.N. Devy). “The Cows” can be read as a companion poem.

11.1- 2: What’s in my…: a blunt statement of the son-persona’s in ability to “occupy” the beliefs of the father 11. 3-5: a sense of loss caused by separation between father and...
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