DEATH OF A BIRD BY KEKI N DARUWALLA

Death of a Bird, one of Daruwalla’s finest poems, reminds us of S.T.Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Both the poems poignantly express the violent convulsions which disturb Nature’s cosiness, peace and sublimity, when someone dares to take away lives of innocent creatures–albatross in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and the monal in the Death of a Bird. At this unlawful intrusion in Nature’s realm, there is upheaval and ultimately the evil does has to suffer the nemesis of guilt. The poem is in the narrative form which is artistically and coherently developed. The narrator who is on a hunting expedition along with his female companion, enters a forest where two monals are passionately engaged in lovemaking, Daruwalla picturesquely describes their copulation :

Under the overhangs of crags fierce bird love :

the monals mated, clawed and screamed;

the female brown and nondescript the male was King, a fire dream.

The hunter did not take pity on the lovemaking monals and all of a sudden fired at the birds. Consequently, the male monal came down and was dead. The hunter and his female companion felt no regret for their heinous act and without any feeling of compassion, they picked the dead bird and put it in a bag. The female monal, which was not hit, was so terrified that crying painfully it flew far off.

The realm of nature was badly disturbed,

With bird-bloods on our hands we walked,

and as the sky broke into rags

of mist, why did our footsteps drag.

The hunters walked on. Their pony was walking slowly. They smote the pony on its shanks so that it might hurry up. It lost its balance and fell down the rock a thousand feet below, where the roaring river flowed. The pony screamed in great pain as it fell down into the river. It is scream fall into the ears of the hunters. They were horror-stricken at the accident. Although this was feeling very depressed, they resume their journey. It was evening. Bears and jackals were howling in the forest. Thinking that the bears were lurking behind the bushes, the narrator- hunter fired the gun but missed the aim each time. When jackals howled, she asked If they were wolves but he made no reply but taking her hand gently in his hand, they walked gently towards a cave which was surrounded by fine trees. It was dangerous. A bhoria dog, left behind by resin tappers to guard their cans contain resin, was growling. It was getting darker and darker and mist was thickening. His companion was feeling very cold. He lit a fire of turf and feat and rubbed her clotted sides and feet. She did not sleep and found her waking in his hands. Their bodies were in close contact but for some unknown reason, they inwardly felt apprehensive.

They rose for the final kill. They had no feeling of guilt :

each of us thought the other was free of the pony’s scream and the monal’s wings

and the fowling bears in the firelight-rim.

The woman resting his head on his chest slept soundly. He held her hair tightly in his hand. The night was advancing towards its climax. Both the hunters were taking rest. The night was peaceful, except the wind moaning aloud. The nightscape is vivid and picturesque:

And the wolves, with the mist, went over the cliff—

but for the wind, we both would have dreamed

the very same dream of quiescence and love;

but the wind was a thorn in the flesh of the night

and moaned aloud like a witch in the flue.

At drawn they repent for killing the he-monal. A brown bird rose from the crags. Flying strongly as it passed over the heads of the two hunters, it fearfully shrieked aloud and fell down dead on their feet. She recognized the dead bird as the Queen monal. She felt that they were accused by the dead bird :

“Just watch its eyes !” For though the bird was near dead

its eyes flared terror like bits of dripping meat !”

Death of A Bird reveals a vision which has an inherent moral. An evil does have to pay the penalty of his or her misdeeds. The woman feeling an expression of terror in the eyes of she-monal understands that a curse would fall upon them. They were responsible for the death of two living monals. An evil does reafs the consequences of his misdeeds. It is an artistic poem, remarkable for stylistic qualities and chaste, apt and highly suggestive diction. Daruwalla’s use of chiselled phrases and picturesque colour-words contribute the artistic excellence of the poem; for example, ” fierce bird-love”, ” the monals mated, clawed and screamed”, ” his eyes were glazed, the breast still throbbed”, ” firmling like a spray of cysts”, ” a passion of dissky gold and blue”, ” dream of quiescence and love”, “like a witch in the flue”, and ” the wolves, with the mist, went over the cliff”. The poem is also remarkable for its dramatic quality. The climax of the dramatic moment reaches in the last stanza when the female monal drops dead at the feet of the hunters, reminding them of their guilt. The lady exclaims :

It’s the queen-monal! We are accused !” she said.

“Just watch its eyes !” For though the bird was near dead

its eyes flared terror like bits of dripping meat !”

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