Summary of If You Call Me

Sarojini’s work resembles the lyric structures of contemporary British fin-de-siècle poets; the mood and colour are Indian. The following love poem is from Sarojini Naidu’s most recent collection of poetry, The Broken Wing (published in 1917 albeit most of the poems were written during the preceding two years).

‘If You Call Me’ is the fifth section (lines 56-71) of The Gate Of Delight’s first part. It is a passionate and ecstatic surrender of the self to the lover, as demonstrated in Indian love poetry, where sorrow is never viewed as the polar opposite of joy. However, the poem demonstrates no melancholic relish of anguish, as is customary in the Indian literary tradition.

If You Call Me, Sarojini Naidu’s passionate and euphoric surrender of the self to the lover, is a very contemplative poem in which a curiosity for the “sweetness of sorrow” in love and the “joy of agony” reign supreme. The beloved entirely surrenders herself to pure love. There is an enticing notion of complete self-surrender, as well as an apparent exaltation of the beloved’s suffering in order to lose oneself in the Infinite. The paradox of love is that the pleasure of separation is equal to the pleasure of togetherness. The poem’s theme, love, is treated with care and all the enticing simplicity and melodic melodies associated with a love song. It is founded on dualism, even as it strives towards oneness. Again, the swiftness of its beat perfectly complements the beloved’s longing for a speedy reunion with the lover. However, all of her efforts are self-generated, and she never receives exciting praise from her lover.

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Here, the speaker appears to be urgently attempting to resurrect a waning or dead love. The passage expresses an endless and high love for her unmoved spouse. The speaker is harsh on herself, frequently fearless in an attempt to attract the lover’s attention. If you call me, I will come/ Fearless what befall”. If her lover calls her, she will respond more quickly than a terrified forest darling fleeing the hunter or a dove that is “breathless” and “panting” due to its lengthy trip in the sky. She would approach him more quickly than a snake does when summoned by a snake-charmer. If he summons her, she will respond heroically, regardless of the consequences or what may happen to her. Hers is complete submission to his lover’s will; she is unconcerned about the repercussions. Perhaps she is.

This is with the hope of eliciting a response from her partner. However, there is no transition from devotion to ecstasy or oneness with her object of love.

The speaker’s desperation “if you call me” becomes sadder and intensifies with repeated demand in the following stanza. The speaker wishes to completely give herself over to the lover. If her lover summons her, she will fly to him faster than desire or thought, faster even than the lightning that rushes across the sky in feathered or fire-encrusted shoes. No impediment would be able to stop her. Even if dark oceans of misery flowed between them or a vast chasm of death separated them, she would not stop. She pleads once more that if he summons her, she will come to him without fear of repercussions or concern for the barriers and problems that may obstruct her route. Here is a love that is impervious to delay or hardship; yet is impervious to response.

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