Nissim Ezekiel’s poem "Enterprise" describes a metaphorical journey toward a specific goal. The travelers on this journey begin in a real physical place, a desert, and argue about how to cross this challenging landscape. One of the members of the group, who writes the most stylish prose, goes his own way. The rest of the group is left on its own. Some quit the team.
The group is attacked by travelers, and over time become unmoved by anything they witness. Fatigue and the stresses of travel have settled in and many of the members of the group cannot go on.
By the fifth stanza, the picture ahead is grim. The enthusiasm has faded and their burdens are heavy. Their vision is clouded with the disintegration of the group and their exhaustion. The well-focused goal presented in the first stanza is lost. The travelers are a disorganized group of aimless wanderers unaware any longer of the original motivation for their expedition. Their observations at this point in the poem are about trivial things.
In the last stanza, the travelers reach their destination; however, it is not quite home. Ezekiel concludes that this type of expedition is not a worthy undertaking; living “at home” with inner satisfaction is the greatest achievement of all. The travelers’ consider their journey and have moments of introspection. They come to the conclusion that their expedition has been neither pioneering or notable for any reason. They had thought their journey would make a mark in history. The only problem is that others have made this journey before. It is nothing new.
The journey of “Enterprise” is a metaphor for life and our focus on the destination as the only means for our goals. Some critics have noted that Ezekiel’s “Enterprise” is also his attempt to bring together two “homes”: his place of birth and his journey to a European city. His exploration of the idea of “home” is sophisticated enough to be compared to the same themes in the poetry of Robert Frost, for example.
Did this raise a question for you?