- Riya Didwania
Elizabeth Burge’s poem “Ispahan Carpet” is an extended metaphor which aims to compare the beauty of the traditional Persian carpet (known as the Ispahan carpet) to the appalling conditions in which the carpet makers are forced to dwell. The central theme of the poem is to emphasize on the exploitation of children which is prevalent in various parts of the world. This leads to the end of all the hope and optimism that ever prevailed in the lives of the children to have a future; a future which is bright and helps them flee away from all the misery and desolation of carpet weaving. It intends to create awareness about child labour which remains unnoticed and ignored through out the world. The poem is portrayed through the eyes of a traveler who on her visit to Persia, is questioning and observing the horrid lives of the makers. Burge begins the poem with the use of a number of gloomy and depressing words like “silent”, “cavernous” and “shadowing” which facilitates the build up of a solemn and glum atmosphere. The scene being described is that of a tired and weak (“silent”, “sallow”) Persian family who earn their living by weaving carpets. The word “rough” is used to express the tedious and harsh life of the makers. Black and white imagery has been proficiently utilized to illustrate the darkness and misery of the room which was bare except for the blackened pots and jars. The only colour observed is that of the “flickering fire” which “lights on the sensuous jeweled arabesques”. Typically, a fire is always depicted as a symbol of hope and optimism where as in this particular poem; the carpet has been illuminated whilst its makers have been shadowed. This implication is repeated later when the poet calls the carpet “the space a foot will crush down”. As always, the wealthy people who purchase the attractive carpet are certainly oblivious to the harsh and cruel lives of the makers. They seem to be simply...
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