Freedom Poem by Rabindranath Tagore


Introduction
Rabindranath Tagore was a well-known figure in Bengal, India, during the nineteenth century. He was interested in the common people and worked for social reform, in addition to his varied literary activities. At Shantiniketan, he founded an experimental school to test his Upanishadic educational ideals. He also participated in the Indian Nationalist Movement. He became the voice of India’s spiritual heritage to the rest of the world, and a great living institution in India, particularly in Bengal.

In the poem ‘Freedom’ through his non-sentimental and visionary approach he states the need for freedom to begin from each and every individual heart and then it could be felt in the pairs.

Summary of the Poem “Freedom”.

Freedom is a patriotic poem by Tagore, The Bard of Bengal. He bought fame by being the first non-European to get the Nobel prize in Literature in 1913, especially by his outstanding book ‘Gitanjali’. In the poem ‘Freedom,’ he expresses his hopes and vision for his motherland, India, in the poem “Freedom.” He was an outspoken supporter of Indian independence from Britain and wanted the end the end of the British Raj, which is the theme of the poem “Freedom.”

The first wish he has for India is freedom from fear. He believes that his countrymen’s fear is to blame for her plight as a slave. In the first two lines of the poem, he refers to India as the “motherland” and expresses his desire for India to be free of fear. His use of alliteration, or the repetition of the “f” sound in the words “freedom,” “from,” “fear,” and “freedom” again in the first line, emphasises the urgency of his call for Indian independence. The word “freedom” appears several times throughout the poem to express the poet’s deep desire for his country to be independent.

The second wish he has for his motherland is to be free of the weight of senseless, illogical, and orthodox beliefs and traditions that prevent her from seeing the future. In the third line, he expands on the image of India as an ageing mother, wishing for her to be free of the “burden of the ages,” referring to the yoke of English control over India. Under the weight of colonialism, the elderly woman who represents India bends her head, bends her back, and closes her eyes.

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Alliteration is used in these lines as well, with the repetition of the “b” sound. Tagore describes how blinding her eyes prevents India from seeing the future or imagining a brighter future for herself. Instead of thinking about the future, India sleeps with what Tagore refers to as “shackles of slumber,” or time spent not thinking about it. Instead, India is fastening herself “in night’s stillness,” implying that the country is committed to its colonial past and current situation. The country “distrusts the star that speaks of truth’s adventurous paths,” which means that it does not look around in its dark time (represented by night) and imagine a brighter future for itself as an independent country.

His third wish for India is for her to overcome her fear of taking risks; he wants her motherland to dare to walk on the adventurous path; he also wants her not to place too much faith in an uncertain destiny; and to not place control of her forward movement in the hands of narrow-minded and heartless people.

His final wish for her motherland is to be free of the humiliation of living as a slave in the hands of foreign invaders. When Tagore asks for “liberation from the anarchy of destiny,” he means that he does not want his country to simply blindly and passively follow the fate that has been assigned to it, and he compares this fate, or destiny, to a sailboat that must follow winds blowing in every direction and that is captained by an uncaring hand. This is a metaphor in which his country is compared to a sailboat following uncertain winds with an uncaring person at the helm.

He wants her to stop acting like a puppet, whose every move is dictated and controlled by the show’s master. He wishes for her motherland to be able to live freely, making her own decisions and shaping her own destiny. Then Tagore asks for freedom from India because he lives in a “puppet’s world,” referring to a world in which India is controlled by other countries and forces in the same way that a puppet is controlled by a puppeteer. The movements are orchestrated through “brainless wires,” implying that England controls India without thinking and by adhering to “mindless habits,” or customs followed without reason. In this extended metaphor comparing India to a puppet show, figures, who are clearly Indians, wait obediently just to follow the master of the show, meaning their English rulers. Therefore, the Indians live “a mimicry of life,” meaning an inauthentic life controlled by others.

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Analysis

Through the alliterative use of the ‘f’ sound in the words ‘freedom’, ‘from’ and ‘fear’, he emphasizes the urgency of his call for Indian independence. The word “freedom” is repeated throughout, to express the poet’s deep wish for independence from the oppression of imperial powers. He represents his motherland as aged, breaking her back, blinding her eyes. India doesn’t
foresee a bright future because she is kept submissive by colonial powers.

India is stagnant from the shackles that bind her. Tagore insists her to break free from oppression. India should awaken from the long slumber of inertness and seek future promises. She should abide by truth alone and her victory is not far. One must not succumb to such adverse destiny but sail away from “blind uncertain winds”. Here India is compared to a sail ship which floats in response to thoughtless commands of the whites, repeating the same mistakes. A master and slave picture is given by comparing India to a puppet in imperial hands, whose moves are determined by the master. India must seek freedom from the insult of being a puppet under the brainless master’s control. Thus true life is not lived here when movements and habits are watched and controlled. Unless there is freedom, the country can never progress.

India should have the courage to throw away the White establishments because they are least bothered about the welfare of Indians. Unless we shake off this fear, the shackles that tie us to darkness and ignorance will bind us even harder. An unreal life is being led under the rule of foreigners in one’s own land. Tagore makes use of appropriate metaphors to evoke patriotic spirit in the reader.

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Questions and Answers

1. In which year did Tagore win the Nobel Prize?
a. 1913 b.1923 b.1933 d.1903
A:1913
2. Which of the following is not a work by Tagore?
a. Geetanjali b. Geetimalya c.Anandamath d. Manasi
A: Anandamath

II. Answer the following questions in a sentence or two:

1. What is meant by the phrase “Puppet’s World”?
India, the motherland is like a puppet under the colonial powers.

2. What does the phrase “beckoning call of the future” refer to”?
Future promises India, freedom and independence and brighter years ahead.

3. What is referred to as the “burden of ages”?
It refers to old customs and conventions, social evils, colonization etc.

4. Explain the figure of speech used in the line, “burden of ages, bending your head, breaking your back.”
Personification (India is compared to an old human). Also, there is alliteration in the words burden bending, break, back.

III. Answer the following questions in a paragraph:

1. Images of Colonialism in “Freedom”
Tagore’s “Freedom” is set in the political scenario of India under British rule. The call for urgency of freedom is evident throughout the poem, and this call for freedom is demanded through various images of colonized India. India was under various imperial powers. India was a colony not only to Britain but also to earlier colonizers like the Dutch, French and Portuguese.

India is compared to an Old woman, the motherland, who has bend due to the burden of age-old customs and social evils she is carrying. Due to the continuous overpowering of foreign powers, her back is breaking. In the following lines, India is even compared to a sailboat aimlessly floating and also to a puppet dancing to the instructions of a thoughtless master.

2. Patriotism a theme in Tagore’s “Freedom
Tagore’s patriotism is clear in the opening lines itself. The poem is concerned with India’s freedom struggle. Tagore calls out to the motherland to free from fear, from the shackles of oppression, from fear of the outsiders. The reader experiences the weight of colonial powers from which Tagore seeks to save his beloved country. Tagore’s patriotism permeates this poem as he decries the “master” beneath whom his “motherland” serves as a “puppet”-but in truth as a slave. Freedom is where the mind is without fears.

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