‘So Very Far’ by Muktibodh is a poem of protest. It belongs to Modern Hindi Literature. The translated work is taken from his poetry anthology named “Muktibodh, 2016”. Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh like Ibopishak, a famous Manipuri poet, raises his voice against capitalism, corruption, inequality, and bourgeois intelligentsia. His poems are radical in thought and stern in verbal arguments. He belonged to the famous Progressive Writers’ Association and defied the traditional approach in writing Hindi poetry. Though contemporary critics criticized his works, he is still in our hearts for his honest versification.
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Summary of So Very Far
Muktibodh is torn by his inner dilemma in the poem. He utters the truth and presents the social evils in this poem. He voices the pang of the proletariat. The wretched finds voice in his words. Deceased, weak, poor, and helpless are his characters who face regular exploitation. Wealthy people build their empire on their bones. That’s why the poet is angry and at the same time hopeless. His anger has turned into mourning in the poem, not to pacify the exploited but to enrage them to stand firm against all the social evils. He wants them to fight for their rights. This poem is a literary work of political dissonance and a powerful manifesto against the oppressors.
Structure of So Very Far
Muktibodh’s ‘So Very Far’ is 41 lines long, divided into 5 stanzas with uneven line lengths. The first stanza has 3 lines whereas the third stanza has 17 lines. The poem belongs to modern Hindi literature. That’s why it has such an unconventional structure. The rhyme scheme also differs in each line. The sound scheme runs parallel to the mood and diction of the lines. The poem contains a mixture of both iambic and trochaic meter. Muktibodh writes the poem from the first-person point of view and it belongs to the genre of modern lyric.
Literary Devices in So Very Far
In the first line of the poem, Muktibodh uses hyperbole to emphasize his mental distance from a certain class of people. “fires” is a metaphor of inspiration in the following line. In line three, readers come across an antithesis. Here the poet presents the concept of “otherness” by using this literary device.
“Multitude walk with me”, is another use of hyperbole. “friendly hands” is the use of synecdoche. The variety used here is “part for the whole” and “hands” stand for a full human body or a man. In the line, “blood-stained epics fly”, epics are invested with the idea of flying. It is the use of personification.
We can find the use of metonymy in the line, “Finding heaps on the spiral staircase”. “Heaps” is a metonym for either forged documents or black money. “Spiral staircase” is a symbol of complexity in a governmental organization which deters a common man to raise his demand. “That no work is unclean if the man be true,/ The work’s still grim”, it is the use of epigram. Poet’s idea may seem absurd at first but the meaning becomes clear after reading it again. We often say that no work is bad or lower is stature but in reality, we act hypocritically.
Readers can find the use of metonymy again in the word “world”. Here the variety used is “container for the thing contained.” The word refers to the men living in it. We can find anaphora in line number 27 and 28. “Only suffering imprisoned by the nothings”, is a use of personification. Here human suffering is personified. In lines 31-32, readers can find alliteration in the words, “unreal, untrue” and “delusion, deceit.” “The only truth is/ A sequence of grief”, is an instance of paradox. Through this line, Muktibodh points to the popular Indian belief, “lifelong suffering is the only means of salvation.”
In the last stanza, “Chevrolets and Dodges” are symbols of capitalism and wealth. Here we come across the literary device called synecdoche. The variety used here is “concrete for the abstract”.
Analysis of So Very Far
Stanza–I and II
I am so very far from you people
In our fight.
At the beginning of the poem ‘So Very Far’, Muktibodh makes his stand clear. He is not in the group who acquires physical wealth. He is with them who have lost everything and who are being exploited for a long period of time.
Muktibodh’s poetic inspiration is totally different from the poets of conventional Hindi literature. The subject matters which seem degenerated to some snobbish critics, for Muktibodh these are his poetic “food”. It keeps him alive.
In the second stanza of ‘So Very Far’, the poetic persona declares that he is not alone. “Multitude walk with” him in his protest against the oppressors. The bourgeois intelligentsia has jostled him from the mainstream author’s association, still, he finds enough companionship from the oppressed people. He cherishes their friendship and expresses heartfelt gratitude for them in the poem. Though he is not popular among the “class”, his verse makes him a lovable poet of the “mass”. His popularity has brought enough criticism towards his work but he is not in the mood of leaving the battle in the middle of the war.
In the last line of this stanza, Muktibodh refers to the Indian epics in which the downtrodden had no place. The epics are blood-stained. Muktibodh uses this epithet here to depict the violent and merciless episodes of Indian ancient past. They are also the helpless, poor, and innocent people suffered.
I covered myself with failure’s trash
In her lungs the shame of those who have nothing.
In the third stanza of ‘So Very Far’, it may seem that Muktibodh has failed in his pursuit of correcting the society. He says that corruption is always there in the system. Though he has chosen the simple way of living, it hurts the people belonging to the privileged section of our society. He voices his opinion which he thinks is essential to rectify the social evils. It is every artist’s essential duty to hold the mirror to the society and Muktibodh was doing it earnestly.
In the next section of the poem, Muktibodh says that people are not satisfied with what they have. They are in search of betterment. In fact, they are hedonistic. People act like hypocrites. Their words change with time but their attitude towards the lower strata of the society remains fixed. Muktibodh ironically presents it in the lines, “That no work is unclean if the man be true,/ The work’s still grim.”
Our selfishness hurts the poet deep. He is of the view that we can easily spend money on buying luxurious things instead of donating a little portion of our wealth to the needy. There are kids who don’t get enough food, stay hungry, and pass endless nights with a dream of getting something to eat.
Stanza–IV and V
Only suffering imprisoned by the nothings
Bowed by your orders.
In the fourth stanza, Muktibodh points out the Calvinistic attitude of Indian society. The poor people learn to suffer from their childhood. The preachers teach them to suffer by forgetting their basic rights. For the illusion created by the selfish society, they start to believe, “All else is unreal, untrue, a delusion,/ deceit.” They forget about questioning the rule of unevenness. Instead of breaking their bondage, they silently accept the “sequence of grief” for the rest of their lives.
In the last stanza of ‘So Very Far’, the poetic persona presents the condition of a mechanic. Under the costly cars of rich people, he is found “oil-covered” and stained “black”. He is treated as an “underground wretch” by society. The inhuman condition of the working class is a major concern for the poet. For the labor, they provide what they get is further orders to obey. The rich people have no sympathy for them. They treat the poor people in a way that they haven’t any right to belong to their so-called society. That’s why Muktibodh utters that they are “so very far” from our little world.