Indian Weavers Summary
‘Indian Weavers’ is a short but beautiful poem written by a well-known Indian poet Sarojini Naidu. The poem has been taken from the poet’s first collection of poetry, titled “The Golden Threshold,” which was published in 1905. It is divided into three quatrains, each with two rhyming couplets.
The flow of language is full of rhythm and word images. The weavers are busy weaving clothes in different colours throughout the day. Each colour as well as the timing of the day symbolises different occasions in one’s life. In the morning, they weave a bright blue coloured cloth for a newborn baby symbolising birth and happiness. During the day, they weave a bright coloured purple and green cloth for the marriage veil of a queen signifying life’s celebrations. Finally, at night, they weave a white coloured cloth for the shroud of a dead body signifying death.
Appreciation of the poem ‘Indian Weavers’
This poem represents the three stages of human life: birth, youth, and death. The poet depicts Indian weavers who weave tirelessly at different times, while also describing the three stages of human life, from birth to death, just as the weavers do tonight from dawn to dusk. The poet selects three different time settings: the weavers weave the new-born baby’s garments early in the morning, the queen’s marriage-veils in the evening, and the dead man’s shroud at midnight. The central theme of the poem is the parallelism that the poet draws between the three stages of human life and the three parts of the weaver’s workday.
The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, owning rhyme scheme “aabb,” “ccdd,” and “eeff,” respectively. The poem’s style is compelling, with each stanza beginning with a question to pique the reader’s interest.
To enhance the poetic appeal of the text, the poetic devices alliteration, consonance, inversion, metaphor, repetition, and smile have been used. These poetic devices include the use of simile in “blue as the wing of a halcyon wild,” metaphor in “break of day” to compare it to “childhood,” alliteration in “we” throughout the stanzas or “p” in “purple peacock,” and the use of the words “weavers,” “weave,” and “weave” throughout the poem. In relating the parts of the day to the stages of life, the poet has used vivid imagery. Almost every line of the poem contains imagery that conjures up a mental image of the “weavers weaving”, “blue-coloured
robe on a new-born baby”, “a queen wearing purple and green coloured marriage-veil” and a “dead body covered with a white shroud”.The poem’s main symbolism is that the “threads” of a person’s life are woven by “destiny” or “Fates,” which are represented by the poem’s “weavers.” The Fates determine when a person is born, how long he or she lives, and when he or she dies.
The weavers weaving garments and a shroud for various occasions may be the poem’s contextual meaning, but symbolically, the poem represents the cycle of life and death, with the Fates weaving the threads of each stage. The poem’s message is that life is in constant motion, with each stage characterised by its own set of emotions lasting only a short time before the next one arrives to take its place. This poem is enjoyable to read because it is a short poem with a lot of imagery. I like the poem because of the colour scheme that the poet has chosen for the garments woven by the weaver based on the intended wearer’s life stage.
- People of different communities usually wear or gift different colours of clothes on different occasions.
- Colours symbolise different feelings, moods and ideas, e.g. red colour symbolises romantic mood or love and danger.
- Different times of the day represent different stages of life – morning represents childhood, evening youth and night death, or end of life.
In poetry different literary devices like Simile, Metaphor, Personification, Alliteration, etc. are used to make the expression more effective.
In this poem ‘Simile, Imagery and symbolism’ have been used.
Simile: In a simile, a comparison is made between two different objects which have some common points.
A simile is generally introduced by the words ‘like’ or ‘as’.
1. Blue as the wings of halcyon wild.
2. Bright like the plumes of a peacock.
Imagery: The suggestion of a clear mental picture or image by the use of words is called imagery. It is a suggestive word picture. A poet can create or suggest beautiful sight-effects and sound-effects by means of words.
‘Weavers weaving at the break of day’
The above expression suggests two images-early morning and weavers weaving cloth.
Symbolism: Poets and writers often use objects or colours or different words to denote an idea. In this poem, the different times of the day and colours of fabric are conveying the idea of a life cycle such as :
Morning: Birth, happiness and hope
Evening: Celebration of life during the youth and middle age.
Night: Represents death
Analysis of Indian Weavers
The poem ‘Indian Weavers’ is developed in three stanzas, in which the first stanza has eight lines, with the rhyming scheme of aa, bb, cc, dd and second stanza have, four-line with the rhyming scheme of ee, ff.
Naidu portrays the Indian weavers while working. As the poem opens weavers are shown to be weaving, at the break of day, beautiful garment of blue colour for a newborn child. The weavers are weaving, in night time, an attractive garment in purple and green colour like the plumes of a peacock, for the marriage veil of a Queen.
Now in the moonlight night, a weaver’s attitude is changed, as they are calm and serious, weaving the cloth of white colours like feather and cloud, for the funeral function of a dead man. The present poem ‘Indian Weavers’ expresses a major theme of human being’s life cycle in a philosophic manner. It begins with a happy or jolly tone and describes childhood with its happy days. The second stage of human life is expressed through marriage which suggests the youth as the golden time of life, enjoyable and attractive.
The last stage of human life is the old age of person which ends at death and is serious. Thus the poem expresses a universal philosophy of human life which starts from birth and ends at death. Another theme is about the life or works of weavers. It is their fate that from morning to night they have to work, though there is happiness, enjoy seriousness around. In the poem, Naidu has used various images and symbols. Naidu has used birds as an image to show different stages of a human being. As in the beginning, she describes the wing of a falcon bird related to the happiness of early childhood. The plumes of peacock are referred to as the joy of youth, while a feather, which is of no use when it detaches from wing of bird signifies the old age leading to death. Colour imagery is used to refer to the various emotions as the blue colour is referred to happiness, green colour is referred to joy and white colour is referred to serious mood.
The search for Indian identity is continued further in the poem. The weavers’ tradition was a part of social life of India. But due to industrialization, it was losing its colour and strength. Naidu through her poetic discourse has recreated this folk tradition with great reverence.
Weavers constitute the part of the Economic structure of rural India and after industrialization was launched by the British, this Indian tradition was on the verge of dying. Naidu rightly captures the spirit of this Indian tradition so it naturally manifests in her poem.
Prof. C.D. Narasimhaiah (1969:22) is highly impressed by the poem, “the poet here is in full possession of rare gifts – a profound awareness of her own tradition admirable poise, economy and an ear, eye for striking rhythm, image and symbol, all used to fine advantage to make the poem most evocative.”
Questions and Answers
Q. What is the message of the poem Indian weavers?
Ans. The central theme of the poem is the parallelism that the poet beautifully draws between the three parts of the weaver’s workday and the three stages of human life.
Q. What are the three stages of life mentioned in the poem Indian weavers?
Ans. The three events referred to in the poem are birth, marriage and death. The three stages of human life indicated by these events are childhood, youth, and old age.
Q. Why are the Indian weavers mostly in debt?
And. The Weavers are often in debts as they take loans to pay for rising food, medical costs and educate their children, hoping they will get lucrative jobs.
Q. Why are they weaving bright clothes?
Ans. She also asks why they are weaving a garment so bright like the plumes of a peacock, purple and green because they are weaving it for a queen which she will use to make her marriage veil.
Q. The poet has asked a question at the beginning of every stanza. Explain the effect it creates on the reader.
Ans. The questions at the beginning of each stanza are used by the poet to stir a sense of inquiry and wonderment in the reader’s mind. It gets the reader curious to know about the nature of the garment woven by the weaver and the reason behind weaving that garment at that particular time. The lines used to raise those questions also serve the purpose of adding the effect of alliteration as a figure of speech.
Q. Express your views about the present condition of weavers.
Ans. The weavers in present times are not generally well-off. They face serious competition from the large textile mills that can produce garments at a faster and cheaper rate. Many of the weavers have altogether left the profession or are forced to work for meagre income in large factories that produce cloth on power-looms.
Q. Discuss the various products made by the weavers in the poem.
Ans. The weavers make three different products in the three stanzas of the poem:
1. In the first stanza, they make vibrant blue-coloured robes of a new-born child with the colour resembling the blue wings of the wild halcyon.
2. In the second stanza, they make the marriage-veils of a queen in purple and green, with the colours resembling the plumes of a peacock.
3. In the third stanza, they make a funeral shroud for a dead man. The shroud is white, like a feather and like a cloud.
These products symbolize childhood, youth and old age, respectively.
Q. Pick out two words used to describe the weavers in the last stanza. Also, state their importance.
Ans. The two words that describe the weavers in the last stanza are ‘solemn’ and ‘still’. The words are used to describe the weavers who are weaving a funeral shroud for the dead man, in a sombre, silent, and compassionate state.
Q. Describe in your own words the steps or measures that can be taken to solve the problems of the weavers.
Ans. The following steps can be taken to solve the problem of the weavers:
1. At government level, schemes should be introduced to protect the interests of weavers. They should be provided subsidies, just like farmers. For example, the government can provide them yarn at a discounted price or help them with easy loans to set up their own looms.
2. At the individual level, we citizens can support the weavers by buying their products, even if they prove more expensive and less elegant than factory-made garments. We can keep a few weaver-made garments in our wardrobe to wear them at least on traditional occasions.
Q. Define the following terms:
Weaving: It is the process of forming a fabric by interlacing yarn on a handloom or a power-loom. The interlaces are known as wefts and warps. One who weaves is a weaver.
Tailoring: It is the process of stitching garments from a fabric on a manual or an automatic tailoring machine.
Knitting: It is the process by which yarn is handled or looped to create a textile or fabric. It is used to make many types of garments such as hosiery and woollen garments.
Embroidering: It is the art of decorating cloth by sewing patterns on it with thread. Many ornamental patterns can be created on simple fabrics with this art to make tablecloths, drapery, ethnic wear, etc.