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This just means that you have to decide whether or not you like the poem, then you have to support your feelings with solid literary reasons. Here are some things to consider:
Do you identify with the poem at all? In other words, do you feel like it has anything to do with you, the contemporary reader, and your world? Why/Why not?
Is the poem understandable to you? Why/why not?
Do you like the vocabulary in the poem? Is the poet's word choice effective?
How about the structure? Does the poem have a rhyme scheme or rhythm? Is it divided into stanzas? Does the build/make up of the poem strike you as appropriate/effective?
How about the literary devices you learn in school? Does the poet make good use of simile, metaphor, symbolism, etc?
T.S. Elliot's poem "To the Indians Who Died in Africa" is a poem about the men going away to war. In the poem Elliot talks about the events of a person who is away at war. The person is no longer on familiar soil. He is not home. The poem is a depressing synopsis of the life and death of a soldier.
Elliot shares that the Indian is not a native to the place in which he is fighting but a man who stands up to the adversary. In death and in life he has performed his duty like all of the other people and it should be recognized.
Some people find Elliot’s poem despondent in that it is a depressing stance on war. Other’s had found the poem to be a political statement of the level of the Indians social status and how as a population they have gone unappreciated. Yet, they have fought alongside other men and done the same jobs and died as they did. Whatever Elliot's reasons for writing the poem are, he has given the people of India the impression into the poem that their efforts at war and their deaths are the reward of their presence.
This poem deals with the idea enshrined in the Bhagwad Gita that it is sufficient to do one's action regardless of reward. Action in itself is significant whether we know its usefulness or not, it is possible we may know it only after death when God will deliver judgement on our actions, whether right or wrong.
Addressing the dead Indian, the poet says a man's destination is his own country, village, home, family. He is sisitting at his door in the evening & watching his grsndson playing with his friend in the dust. In other words, his destination lies in enjoying the charms of life connected with his own homeland.
If his destiny leads him away from his homeland then its memories continue to haunt him & crop up when he sits in convesation with foreigners, alien to each other. All these foreigners, haunted by memories of homeland, forge strange kinship.
Wherever man's destiny may lead him, the adopted land cannot be his destination, i.e. where he yearns to be. The land where a man dies bravely, struggling with his destiny, is his homeland. This fact needs to be remembered by his village, his family.
The poet, in emphatic terms, tells the dead Indian that Africa was neither his homeland nor was it theirs(Whitemen's--The colonisers who went to Africa for a "cause"). He died & was buried in the same graveyard as others'. Those who return home should carry with them the story of his "action" which was useful, even though its usefulness was not known, and its reward would be known only on the "Judgement Day".
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