‘Singh Song!’ is a good choice of title – Singh is the name of the narrator of this poem, which Daljit Nagra calls a song and it is not hard to see why. Interestingly the poem’s form means that the final two stanzas have a much slower pace giving them a more intimate feel which mirrors the content of them. The poem is ostensibly a love poem, but wrapped up in moments of comedy. The first few stanzas portray a mean clearly abandoning his responsibilities just to have sex! However as the poem progresses and we see his partner imperfections it only helps to strengthen the validity of his obvious devotion to his partner.
I think in essence what this is saying is that when it comes to life being in love is far more important than any old job. In fact, as the narrator states, his partner is priceless, worth more than the moon. Is this making a bigger statement about people’s priorities in their lives? How many of us waste time on worrying about work that we could spend enjoying time with the people that mean the most to us?
Form and Tone
As you would expect, given the title, Singh Song!, which can be read in full here, has a very smooth rhythm and a song-like quality. It is made up of nine stanzas of varying lengths. The refrains used throughout the poem act as a sort of chorus adding to the poem’s musical-like quality. The tone of the poem is comedic, due to the constant use of colloquialism mirroring the language used by Indian people that reside in Britain.
Singh Song! Analysis
You can see straight away in this first stanza the aforementioned use of informal language and misspellings to give the feel of the dialect being used. This gives Singh Song! instant comic effect. In this first stanza, the narrator talks about taking a break from working in his dad’s shop, even though he’s not supposed to. The first line of the stanza suggests the narrator’s father has more than one shop, perhaps he is wealthy?
In this stanza the narrator talks of sneaking upstairs to spend time with his new bride. The comedy once again is evident. It would appear the narrator is sneaking up to have sex and some food! Lucky guy!
In this stanza, the narrator details the reaction of his patrons to his breaks. It would appear that his interactions with his wife are driving him to distraction as it has caused him to make silly little mistakes and forget to do certain chores to the point where he, being brutally honest, claims that it’s the worst Indian shop.
The content of this stanza is slightly ambiguous, but it would appear that whilst her husband works the wife is playing cupid on a dating website? There is a nice comparison to her wife playing a game of cat and mouse. Cats are often associated with feline beauty.
In the fifth stanza of Singh Song!, we see what a colorful character the narrator’s wife is. She is clearly a person that has no problem standing up for herself, as she swears at her mother-in-law. And makes fun of her father-in-law whilst she is drunk. This description is certainly far from flattering however throughout there is an undertone that suggests; despite these flaws, he still loves her massively. Likening her tummy to that of a teddy bear. The constant use of the refrain “my bride” serves as a reminder that despite all of those things she is still his betrothed.
This stanza mirrors the third stanza as the narrator returns from what her refers to “di tickle” clearly another sexual euphemism. Once again the shop is a state and customers comment on things like out of date milk and stale bread. Once again the narrator “owns” these shortcomings repeating that it’s the worst Indian shop.
this describes, comically, a sweet moment when the narrators bride sometimes comes down into the shop when it is closed to spend time with him. It’s amazing how in a short poem Nagra manages to create such a wonderfully complex character.
In this final stanza, we see just how much the narrator values his bride. The two of them sit and converse in the shop and he basically tells her that she is priceless. Despite all the comedy this is a truly warm end to Singh Song! and shows the narrator to be a caring soul whole clearly feels deeply in love with his wife. This offers a nice contrast to the rest of the poem as the comedy is kept to a minimum in the final part of Singh Song! offering an insight into the multi-faceted world of love. You have the excitement of the lovemaking at the start, the ups and downs in the middle, trying to deal with his partner’s craziness, and the tenderness at the end of the poem.
About Daljit Nagra
Daljit Nagra is a British poet of Indian descent. He received his MA in English from London University. His poetry has received feedback from several notable poets including Carol Ann Duffy. He has won several poetry awards, most notable of which is the forward poetry prize. His poems often imitate the language of Indians who have immigrated to England, whose English may not be as good as that of native Englishman.