What is the significance of the following quote from "Evening Landscape by the River," by Jayanta Mahapatra?
"This is the kind of sadness which closes the eyes. Here the memory for faces of the dead never appears."
The poet here, Jayanta Mahapatra, in the poem "Evening Landscape by the River" is conveying the intense sadness that is beyond typical heartbreak. The poet is alluding to a sadness that is all encompassing, and which causes the narrator of the poem to close their eyes because of the harsh reality of this sadness that is enveloping them into a deeper grief.
It's as if the sadness is so painful that the narrator closes their eyes in shock and disbelief. Whatever the tragedy, the narrator cannot even summon memories of the faces of the dead - it is too hard to imagine these people as being gone. The narrator longs for their physical presence; memories of them are not good enough. These memories, if they could be brought to the forefront of the narrator's mind, would only serve to deepen the sorrow.
Therefore, the narrator seems to be consciously avoiding the resurrection of these memories as some sort of defence mechanism against even more pain and inner turmoil. The closing of the eyes may be because the sadness is so great that the narrator wishes to stop the thoughts from becoming even more torturous. Closing the eyes is the narrator's way of putting a stop to the images that represent the sadness they know of - a sadness that affects their ability to have memories that can help the healing process required for the living.
Jayanta Mahapatra is a popular poet of Indian and British descent.
The first lines of his poem "Evening Landscape by the River" are as follows:
This is the kind of sadness which closes the eyes.
Here the memory for faces of the dead never
(Mahapatra, "Evening Landscape by the River,"
The poem is a reflection on life and futility; the "sadness which closes the eyes" is an emotion that is too powerful to ignore. With time, sadness can be dampened, but this particular sadness is so strong that the eyes close in resignation. While memories of dead friends and relatives can be happy or sad depending on the circumstances, here the memories can't even manifest because the regret is so strong. Any memories are flatly suppressed by the emotion; any hope to shed the emotion and pursue happiness is overwhelmed by the emotion itself. The person experiencing the sadness cannot see past it; his eyes are "closed" to hope. He cannot remember his dead friends or relatives; he can only remember his own regrets.
The set up of this poem is adjacent to the river in Puri where cremation of dead takes place. One witnesses death all around and it highlights the futility of life. Here the general atmosphere is gloomy and may be one visualizes his own death and that is why sadness remains alive in the surroundings.