What are the main themes that run throughout the poem 'A Different History' by Sujata Bhatt?

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

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I think that one of the strongest themes to emerge in Bhatt's poem is the struggle to understand one's identity in a Postcolonial setting.  Bhatt writes a two- stanza-ed poem that clearly articulates the condition between what life was like without Colonial rule and how life is altered with it.  The notion of the "Gods roam freely" is a symbolic representation of how indigenous identity exists outside of the construction of Colonial rule.  The second stanza speaks to this idea that the "oppressor's tongue" dominates all verbal patterns of precognition.  This theme of Postcolonial identity is evident in the idea that the "unborn grandchildren" have appropriated "that strange language."  There is a sense of questioning as to what constitutes identity in the poem and this becomes an essential theme out of it.  At the same time, I think that one of the other themes is a quest to understand how language constructions can remain "new."  This epistemological theme comes out of how the two stanzas connect to one another.  I don't think that Bhatt is rejecting the modern condition, but rather is asking how one can reconcile past forms of communication and lexical clarity with the modern vision that is so fundamentally different from that which is past.  This becomes a questioning of how human beings construct what is and what can be from what was.  This theme becomes central to the poem's understanding.

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