Analyze "The Indian Gypsy' by Naidu.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think the condition of permanence through impermanence is something of which Naidu is mindful in her poem.  She presents the gypsy as someone impermanent in the setting in which she lives.  The "tattered robes" where there was a "glittering trace" are matched with the "bygone colors in the first stanza.  This is enhanced in the last stanza where the gypsy is poised against a changing world, and yet representing a sense of permanent in a world that is mutable.  As she drinks at "time's forgotten source," the Indian Gypsy becomes something permanent in a setting that is far from it.  For those who see Naidu's poem as representative of the "songbird of India," there is a distinct nationalist feel to the poem.  Naidu's detail of the gypsy, especially as one who drinks from "the source," is reflective of how India is a nation that will stand apart from others, even if its presence is not fully understood.  In her work on Naidu, Satvinder Kaur brings this out:

As countries come and go, India will shine through its philosophy of spiritualism in the history of the world.... In the same manner as men may come and go, this Indian Gypsy girl will go on forever.

This might be where Naidu's poem is at its most powerful and compelling in that it constructs a permanent place for that which could be seen as impermanent.  Through this inversion, power rests with the gypsy girl and India, who continually take solace in being able to "drink at time's forgotten source."


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