What is the structure of Derozio's poem "To India My Native Land"?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"To India My Native Land" is structured as a sonnet. It follows closely the English, also called Shakespearean, sonnet form, but with some structural variations that are inspired by Spenser. The structure goes against Petrarchan sonnet form as it follows a different rhyme scheme and includes an end couplet, which Petrarchan sonnets are said to never employ. It is interesting to note that Petrarch first developed the sonnet form of poetry, yet English variations on and adaptations to his Italian form have come down through the ages as the most famous: Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare both did much to immortalize the English sonnet form.

Derozio's sonnet meter is iambic pentameter (five measures {feet} of da DA rhythm). The rhyme scheme varies the Enlish sonnet scheme of abab cdcd efef gg by borrowing concatenation (i.e., linking of quatrains) from Spenser and creating a rhyme scheme of abab abcc dede cc, with ab and cc linking concatenation between quatrain 1 and 2 and between quatrain 2 and the couplet. Concatenation either links the passages thematically or opposes them thematically.

In the ab ab concatenation, the theme is contrasted, opposed, as the first quatrain speaks of India's glory while the second speaks of captivity under colonization:

And worshipped as a deity thou wast.
Where is that glory, where that reverence now?

Thy eagle pinion is chained down at last,
And groveling in the lowly dust art thou:

Similarly, in the cc cc concatenation, Derozio also contrasts, or opposes, the passages thematically. In the quatrain, the poetic speaker laments that no minstrels sing of India's greatness and crown her with wreaths of glory, while, in the couplet, the speaker pledges himself and his reward (i.e., guerdon) to evoking one kind wish for India:

Thy minstrel hath no wreath to weave for thee
Save the sad story of thy misery!

And let the guerdon of my labour be
My fallen country! One kind wish from thee!