Unit 1- Poem 2 Enterprise – Nissim Ezekiel It started as a pilgrimage,
Exalting minds and making all
the burdens light. The second stage
explored but did not test the call.
The sun beat down to match our rage.
We stood it very well, I thought,
observed and put down copious notes
on things the peasants sold and bought,
the way of serpents and of goats,
three cities where a sage had taught.
But when the differences arose,
on how to cross a desert patch
we lost a friend whose stylish prose
was quite the best of all our batch.
A shadow falls on us - and grows.
Another phase was reached when we
were twice attacked, and lost our way.
A section claimed its liberty
to leave the group. I tried to pray.
Our leader said he smelt the sea.
We noticed nothing as we went,
A straggling crowd of little hope,
Ignoring what the thunder meant,
Deprived of common needs like soap.
Some were broken, some merely bent.
When, finally, we reached the place,
We hardly knew why we were there.
The trip had darkened every face,
Our deeds were neither great nor rare.
Home is where we have to gather grace.
Critical Appreciation of Nissim Ezekiel’s Enterprise
Nissim Ezekiel is an integral part of Indian Writing in English during the 20th century. He was well-versed both in English and in Indian languages. He broke the romantic tradition of writing poetry, which was the popular form during his times. Alienation is the common theme prevailing in his poems.
‘Enterprise’ is an allegory of human condition on this planet and of the frequent efforts, failure and frustrations to which man is subject by the very nature of earthly life. The poet describes a spiritual pilgrimage where each pilgrim faces difficulties and disillusionment along the way. Thus, in the ‘Enterprise’ a group of people undertake a journey moved by noble aspirations, but it all ends in failures and frustrations as...
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