Ruminations Poem By Daruwalla


Ruminations is a meditative poem written by Daruwalla. The poet has glimpses of the true nature of life. He can see violence and hatred in the air . They are so omnipresent! Man cannot wash away these evils from his mind , try hard as he will! They stick deep . As violence and hatred reign all around . the
natural corollary is death- wish . The poet says:

Death I am looking
for that bald bone-head of yours! (5-6)

Flesh is man’s ultimate destiny . Alas! it is a prey to corruption. Neither rose-water nor insense-sticks nor flowers can drown the smell of death .

The drift as it comes to us now
is aroma/stench/nausea
jostling each other (7-10)

Violence can disfigure the human body . The corpse of a woman lying on the verandah of the morgue , the
victim of her husband’s jealousy , has a grisly look , her nose being sliced off . Man is submissive to his ultimate fate .

bury him
and he is steadfast as the earth
Burn him and he will ride the flames
Throw him to the birds and he will
surrender flesh like an ascetic.(12-16)

Can man ever have a cleansed feeling such as one gets while walking the temple after a river-bath ? No,
says the poet . Nature has a cleansed look after rain .

the hedge smiles
the leaf loses its coat of dust
the scum spills from the pool. (17-20)

Alas for man! He can never experience the cleansed feeling ! Sin sticks so deep that sophisticated man is incapable of redemption .

I have misplaced it somewhere
in the caverns of my past!


Summary of Ruminations


This poem from Under Orion is a meditation on violence. The speaker is somebody who is on duty, as it were, “prodding rat-holes/ and sounding caverns” to detect violence before it erupts. Perhaps, he is a police officer like Daruwalla himself.

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As the poem begins, the speaker ‘Bsmells violence in the air,” as if before the outbreak of a communal riot–there is a clear reference to “mass hatreds.” The image of these hatreds drifting “grey across the moon” is suggestive of a momentary lapse of sanity or, to be more precise, a touch of lunacy (the word itself derives from the supposed effect of the moon on people). Violence is next compared to a poised cobra, hood swaying, fangs exposed. The speaker, searching as if for an enemy, seems to be tracking down death itself, suggested by the cross bones and skull head.

In the next stanza, which is the longest, the focus of the poem shifts somewhat from violence to death itself, to the frailty of the flesh, in fact. The poet describes how a dead body putrefies, turning pulpy as it rots. At the funeral, the stench of rotting flesh competes with the aroma of incense-sticks. Next we see another stray instance of violence: a woman with her nose sliced off, supposedly for cheating on her husband. Then we see three ways of disposing off the dead–cremation, burial, and the Parsi tower of silence, where the body is picked to the bone by the vultures.

The poem ends with a descriptio of rain. But this rain does not leave the poet feeling cleansed. Why? The poet ays he has misplaced it “somewhere in the caverns” of his past. The meditation on violence and death has not given the poet knowledge or release. Instead, it has made him (and through him, us, his readers) confront some unsavoury facts about the h an condition. The poem does not offer us a well-articulated insight about violence o eith but induces in us a feeling of discomfort and, even, revulsion. Why are people violent? Why do We kill each other? These questions are not answered. Instead, we are left with sensations that accompany themj sensations which are by no means pleasant.

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I’ve been trying to suggest that this poem operates not though a progression of ideas so much as through a progression of images, which convey some definite sensations. These sensations, however, do end up conveying some sort of message about the nature of violence. And it is left to us, as readers, to figure out what that message might be. To me, this poem suggests that the cycle of violence follows a certain, almost natural pattern. First, there is a sense of menace in the air, the brooding, hovering felling of an impending outbreak. Then, violence does erupt. Many people may be killed in the process; or else, as in the case of domestic quarrel, only one person may be mutilated or dead. In death, it is clearly how pliant man is, so easy to dispose of. He is equally amenable to a variety of terminations and disposals. Finally, it is over. Like rain after summer, norrnalcy is restored. But this normalcy does not necessarily cleanse us; certainly, the speaker does not feel cleansed. Instead, he is left with several unanswered questions and a bitter after-taste.

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