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Rupert Loydell and Zulfikar Ghose in their poems write on the same subject---- a jobless, homeless, person, in one case a tramp and in the other a street beggar, both struck by poverty, pain and the nonchalance of the so-called decent society. Both the poems critique the selfish prioritization of personal well-being and a complete inability to empathise with the poorest of the poor. The mad obsession of the urban solvent people with material comfort is probed penetratingly in the two poems.
" Tramp" begins with the vagrant dweller, " a mad prophet" uttering nonsense, addressing the gods in heaven in an insincere, abusive and opinionated manner.Then comes the final dismissive statement: " no message for us". With the word " us" the boundary is permanently drawn between "us' and "him'. By the plural "us", the speaker takes in the entire society of cultured, affluent urban people living in a materially safe haven." Our uneven stares dissuade approach"' writes the persona. " Uneven stares" suggest that multiple eyes view the tramp from multiple perspectives, but one thing is common to all. They are reluctant to allow the tramp to invade their world. The images of penurious living,"his matted hair, patched coat, grey look", are telling; the cultured, affluent, busy viewers are afraid of him lest he intrudes into their world of cozy comfort.. They only hope that " he keeps away". The poem ends with a decisive statement," no place for him in our heaven/ there it is clean and empty". " Our heaven" is the cocooned world of material ease and comfort or luxe, where nothing matted or squalid can exist. But the final irony is in the word "empty" which ' empty" unmistakably suggests the spiritual vacuity and emotional drought of the urbanised folk who may boast of a clean home but such a home is a vapid and vacuous one. This is a caustic critque of the meaninglessness of our materially flourishing lives which are void of humanity and it is human wealth that actually makes us rich in the deeper sense of the term.
Zulfikar Ghose's " Decomposition" is, as the title suggests, about the corruption or putrefaction of the human fibre in this selfish goal- hunting urban society, of which Bombay is emblematic. Here the tramp is replaced by a beggar, once again an outcast living even beyond the peripheries of human society,as if. This beggar," asleep on the pavement", distracts in a way the crowd of urbanites being 'bemused by a pavement trickster'. The beggar in the poem is another caricature of a human being, " a fossil man", " brain-washed by the sun into exhaustion". He lies abandoned on the stone pavement and the stone seems to have entered his veins. In a word, he is petrified by his degraded life. In this poem the persona is a photographer, who romantically tries to conceive of the beggar as a fit object of his art to be captured through his camera lens. He would name his picture "The Man in the Street", an icon of India's mythical poverty. But suddenly at the end of the poem the photographer is shocked into his senses by a realization that this weeping man rebukes him to make a romanticised art-work out of his penurious homeless existence, a world of loveless hunger and desolation. The beggar's loneliness and helplessness come out to the fore at the end of Ghose's poem, which too turns out to be a moving indictment of the nonchalant selfishness of Bombay urbanites.
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