Compare and analyze the two poems “The Old Woman” and “Indian Dancers” by Sarojini Naidu.

“The Old Woman” and “Indian Dancers” both describe common scenes but in such a way that readers' emotions are touched. “The Old Woman” focuses on both the pitiful poverty and the faith of an old beggar woman. “Indian Dancers” uses vivid imagery, metaphor, and alliteration to appeal to all of the reader's senses and create an appealing, almost magical scene.

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Let's look at each of these two poems by Sarojini Naidu, paying special attention to their structures and content.

“The Old Woman” has a distinct rhyme scheme that changes with each stanza, and the three stanzas get progressively longer. The poem also employs a decided rhythm that also varies by stanza. The speaker uses this structure to present a detailed, vivid picture of an old woman sitting in the street. She is blind and listens as people pass by, and she holds her bowl, hoping that people will give her a little something to eat. This seems like a horrible life, but the woman is brave, and even in her poverty and struggles, she sings to God and blesses others.

In the third stanza, the speaker includes some interesting metaphors. The old woman is “holding converse with poverty, hunger and pain.” These are almost companions for her. She does not reject them but nearly embraces them, allowing herself to experience what she must patiently and without complaint until “the ultimate sleep” of death takes her. The speaker also reflects on the loneliness of this old woman. She once comforted others, but no one is on hand to comfort her now. This touches the speaker's heart so deeply that she cries out in a prayer, asking God if there is no one to bless this woman. Yet faith remains in the woman, and she continues to pray even as the world passes her by carelessly.

While “Indian Dancers” also describes a common scene in the poet's culture, it is a much more cheerful and fanciful poem than “The Old Woman.” In “Indian Dancers,” the rhyme scheme runs across the three stanzas as ababcdcdeaea, an interesting interlocking pattern. The poem's lines are quite long, and the stanzas are uneven in the numbers of their lines.

This poem is filled with metaphors and imagery as well as alliteration. Notice the alliteration already in the first line: “Eyes ravished with rapture.” The dancers are so passionate that they seem to be on fire, and “fountains of light” glimmer around them. The music is so wild that it seems to “cleaveth the stars.” The dancers' “gem-tangled” hair is a maze of scents, and they move like “blossoms that bend to the breezes or showers.”

Notice, too, the appeals to the senses in this poem. The poet makes readers see, hear, smell, feel, and even taste the scene with her vivid imagery. Light flashes. Scents waft through the air and fall upon nose and tongue. Music plays. The air quivers. Anyone watching the dancers is drawn into their enchantment, and readers can imagine the scene through the poet's remarkable use of words and images.

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