Village Song by Sarojini Naidu

Introduction: The poem is about the traditional village way of life, as well as the young girl’s attachment to her family and how the darker surroundings creates anxiety in her thoughts. The speaker of the poem a little rural girl who has gone to gather water from a river that is far away from her house. There are numerous regions in India where people do not have access to running water and must go long distances to gather water from wells, rivers, ponds, or other bodies of water. It is a duty usually performed by women of the house, in which they bring pitchers or vessels full of water to meet the household’s water needs. The poet describes a circumstance in which a girl goes to gather water from a river.

Summary of Village Song

“Village Song” is a traditional folk song from Sarojini Naidu’s second collection of poems, The Bird of Time. The rustic environment reflects the daily ritual of Indian village ladies fetching their daily pitcher of water from a great distance. The rural girl in the poem has returned home after filling her pitchers with water from the Yamuna River. The path to her house is lonely, and she feels fearful as darkness closes in. She regrets succumbing to the lure of waiting to listen to the boatman’s mesmerising song. The white crane’s hooting frightens her and fools her into believing it is the owl hooting. Without moonlight to guide her, she is fearful of being stung by a serpent. Born and raised in a rural Indian hamlet where folk beliefs are prevalent, she thinks that malevolent spirits roaming the area will cast wicked charms on her, causing her death.

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‘Ram ra Ram’ is a common exclamation used by Indian men and women during times of fear or excitement. Additionally, the serpent and the evil spirits depict the concealed threats that exist in contemporary society. The popular Radha-Krishna myth, which is known even in the most remote villages of India, may have inspired this lyric. Personal safety is not her only concern. She is concerned that her tardiness will annoy her parents and brother. Her mother would be inconsolable, pleading with the Gods to protect her daughter and bring her safely home. Her brother would undoubtedly be curious as to the reason for her tardiness. Everyone is aware of the perils (connected with a river as big as the Yamuna. The analogy between the rising darkness and the gathering of blackbirds in the sky is evocative of  the maiden’s worry and concern. The girl is fearful that there will be a storm soon and that she will be struck by lightning. Helpless in the face of all these inherent hazards, she prays to God for protection and guidance to safely return home. The maiden’s everlasting confidence in Lord Rama is reaffirmed in the final verse, when she shouts “Ram re Ram! I shall die” in the expectation that her saviour will save her.

Stanza-Wise Analysis of the Poem

Stanza I: 

Full are my pitchers and far to carry,
Lone is the way and long, Why, O why was I tempted to tarry
Lured by the boatmen’s song?

The girl explains that she is bringing pitchers of water and has not yet reached her home. She must walk a considerable distance carrying the pitchers of water to her home. Then she explains why she was late: she got distracted by the boatman’s music and slowed down.

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Swiftly the shadows of night are falling,       Hear, O hear, is the white crane calling,
Is it the wild owl’s cry?

It is nearly nightfall, the sky is darkening rapidly, and the girl is becoming afraid due to the sound of the birds surrounding her. She inquires as to whether the sound was generated by the White Crane or by a wild Owl. The reader must bear in mind that the girl is returning home at twilight, when she cannot see anything well. Additionally, the road she took is not clean or straight; it passes through a jungle.

Stanza II

There are no tender moonbeams to light me,
If in the darkness a serpent should bite me,
Or if an evil spirit should smite me,        
Ram re Ram! I shall die.

As the poem refers to twilight, it is becoming darker and the moonlight is not visible at that time. According to the child, the soft moonbeam may provide her with respite from the fear she is experiencing. The girl’s route is not straight and clean, and she is fearful of being bitten by a snake or being haunted by evil spirits. In this condition of dread, she assumes the name of God Rama in order to be delivered from her torment. Additionally, many Indian traditions believe that chanting God Rama’s name keeps evil away from people, and it is possible that the girl is taking Rama’s name in order to ward off such harmful forces.

My brother will murmur, “Why doth she linger?”
My mother will wait and weep,
Saying, “O safe may the great gods bring her,
The Jamuna’s waters are deep.” …
The Jamuna’s waters rush by so quickly,
The shadows of evening gather so thickly,
Like blackbirds in the sky …

The second stanza demonstrates a shift in the speaker’s thought process, as she now imagines her brother and mother’s reaction. She becomes agitated as she recalls her brother and mother. She imagines her brother will express concern about her tardiness. On the other hand, her mother will wait and mourn, fearful that something awful has happened to her daughter, as the Jamuna River’s water is deep and swift. And she would pray to God to guide her daughter safely home, as the rapid and deep waters of the Jamuna river and the dense shadows that had gathered in the dusk like blackbirds in the sky are obstructions to her daughter’s route.

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O! if the storm breaks, what will betide me?
Safe from the lightning where shall I hide me? Unless Thou succour my footsteps and guide me, Ram re Ram! I shall die.

Her mind returns to her own fearful ideas. She sobs as she considers what would happen to her if a storm strikes. Or, if the lighting begins, where should she seek refuge? Her fear grows as she considers these things. She repeatedly invokes her god, pleading with him to guard her footsteps and guide her safely home.

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