Sarojini Naidu as a Lyric Poet
Indian poet and political activist Sarojini Naidu, known as ‘Bharatiya Kokila‘ (The Nightingale of India), was a prolific poet, whose work drew wide acclaim, and influenced generations of writers. Her brilliance is deeply observed in the sublime and lofty songs that she sang. Unparallel as she stands even today, for the variegated versatility and rapturourness of her lyrics, she is the unsurpassing great woman the staunch patriot the national singer.
Sarojini’s poetry is a beautiful kaleidoscopic view of the image of Indian life culture and Indianess. The first thing that strikes us in reading Naidu’s poetry is her exquisite melody and fine delicacy of feeling, an expression blended with the freshness and exuberance of spirit. She has skillfully weaved a beautiful picture using various strands of emotions- love, separation, ecstasy, mellowness, seasons especially spring folklore, festivals, history, and mythology to present the vivid images of India and Indian womanhood. Whether it is Radha, Zubeidaa, a parda-nashin coy lady, a married woman, or a mother, Damayanti or a Rajput princess – all poems have a bird like rapturous, melodious, haunting, resonating and perpetual quality about them. They all sound like a sweet tintinnabulation to the reader’s car. All her major themes are variegated and depict not only her love for her motherland but also her complete amalgamation in its culture.
“The Pardah Nashin”, taken from the last section of The Golden Threshold, is an exquisite lyric. Like any other lyric of Naidu this lyric is marked by music, melody, compactness of thought and superb analogy. As in the poem, “The Pardah Nashin’, the poetess describes the life of the ‘pardah nashin‘ with a number of analogies:
” Her life is a revolving dream
Of languid and sequestered ease;
Her girdles and her fillets gleam
Like changing fires on sunset seas;
Her raiment is like morning mist,
Shot opal, gold and amethyst.”
Besides the lyrical wealth, Naidu seems to be accomplished in her handling of diction and versification. The words, phrases and devices are used in perfect harmony with the intended meaning and movement of the poetic thought. The epithets are sensuous, impassioned and apt and they are an eloquent example of her phrase making genius as in “The Old Woman”,
“A lonely old woman sits out in the street
‘Neath the boughs of a banyan tree
And hears the bright echo of hurrying feet
The pageant of life going blithely and fleet
To the feast of eternity.”
She has also made a successful attempt of her descriptive power in her poetry. She acts like a skillful artist throwing light on significant details, describing them with novelty, vividness and effectiveness to present a clear and pleasing picture. In the poem “Summer Wood” she has employed ancient myths to bring out fresh and new associations as: “Companions of the lustrous dawn, any comrades of the night, / Like Krishna and like Radha, encompassed with delight…” Her poems are also characterized by vivid, colorful and sensual imagery associated with Indian life and environment.
As a child Sarojini was of a very emotional and sentimental kind. She had a prominent romantic trait in her blood: “My ancestors for thousands of years have been lovers of the forest and the mountain caves, great dreamers, great scholars, great ascetics…” All these qualities manifest themselves in her romantic lyrics a world of fantasy and allegoric idealism. In her poetry, the lyrical appeal is wonderful and full of the magic of melody.