How can it be said that "Father returning Home," by Dilip Chitre, is a modern poem?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One dominant theme found in modernist poetry is isolation from the world. Dilip Chitre's poem "Father Returning Home" speaks of isolation because the poem describes a world-weary father returning home from work, yet he doesn't return to the warmth and companionship often found in a home; he instead returns home to isolation.

His isolation is especially expressed in the second stanza, which states, "His sullen children have often refused to share / Jokes and secrets with him." His isolation is further expressed in the fact that he is described as thinking about "[m]an's estrangement from a man-made world." His own feelings of isolation appear to be a product of his exhaustion from his work-weary life.

A second major theme found in modernist poetry is pessimism. It is possible the reference to ancestors "entering a subcontinent through a narrow pass" refers to the Aryans migrating to India through the Khyber Pass in the Himalayas. Hence, based off of this reference and the image of "brown hands," we might conclude the poem is set in India. Knowing this, we can also interpret that the father's feelings of overwork, depression, and isolation, especially isolation from his ancestors, are a product of modernization from Great Britain's colonization of India. India is no longer the agrarian society known and developed by the father's ancestors; instead, it is industrialized, complete with all of the hardships brought on by industrialization, including difficult working conditions and low wages, especially in the exploited territories of what was Great Britain's Empire. Hence, we can also conclude that the poem shows a modern, pessimistic response to imperialism.

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