.‘The Bangle Sellers’ by Sarojini Naidu pictures the stages of Indian women comparing it to different colors of bangles sold by the bangle sellers. It is included in her collection of poems called “The Bird of Time” published in 1912. The poem brings out the social, religious, and symbolic value of bangles in Indian culture like her other poem “In The Bazaars of Hyderabad“. In India, bangles are a mandatory ornament of women, also suggests happiness, peace, and prosperity.
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Summary of The Bangle Sellers
The poem ‘The Bangle Sellers’ by Sarojini Naidu revolves around bangles and bangle sellers. It describes the stages in the life of a woman as well as the life of bangle sellers. The speaker of the poem is one of the bangle sellers who are selling bangles at the temple fair. They call out to the people passing by and urge them to buy bangles for their daughters and wives. In the second, third, and fourth stanzas, they describe the bangles of different colors they have to match the woman of different age groups. The different colors meant for different stages of life indicate the importance given to bangles in the life of Indian women in Indian Culture and Tradition.
You can read the full poem here.
Form and Structure of The Bangle Sellers
‘The Bangle Sellers’ is a well written lyric poem of 24 lines, divided into 4 stanzas of six lines. Each stanza consists of three rhyming couplets, following a simple rhyme scheme of ‘AABBCC.’ Though the lines are mostly ‘Octasyllabic,’ it follows no particular metrical style. The poem follows a definite structure. Of the four stanzas, the first stanza serves as an introduction, while the three subsequent stanzas deals, three important stages of a woman respectively.
Theme and Settings of The Bangle Sellers
Sarojini Naidu’s ‘The Bangle Sellers’ touches upon the theme of Indian culture and people. Like her poems, it is also set on Indian settings and depicts a temple fair where the bangle sellers sell their bangles. The theme of the poem revolves around the “bangles” and the role of bangles in each stage of a women’s life.
Poetic / Literary Devices used in The Bangle Sellers
Sarojini Naidu’s poem ‘The Bangle Sellers’ in terms of using literary devices. Here too we find imagery, simile, metaphor, anaphora, and other poetic devices and figures of speech employed to express her command over the language.
Since the poem associates the colors of bangles to the stages of women, we could see a lot of comparisons being made by the poet. In the second stanza, while describing the colors suitable for young maidens she uses the similes “Silver and blue as the mountain mist” and “Some are flushed like the buds that dream.” Again, in the third stanza too, the poet compares the colors of bangle for a bride to the “fields of sunlit corn,” and “flame of her marriage fire.” The simile used in the last line of the third stanza “bridal laughter and bridal tear” comprises the joy and sorrow of getting married.
The poet has employed Metaphors also to make comparisons. Compared to the simile’s they are crisp and direct. In the first stanza she addresses the bangles as “Rainbow-tinted circles of light,” and the heaviness of their life and the bangle is called “shining loads.” In the second stanza, the young maiden’s are compared to the “buds that bloom” to picture the color “rosy-red.”
Besides the use of simile and metaphor the poet has skillfully employed ‘Imagery.’ Her adept use of words creates images in the mind of the readers. One could visualize the “mountain mist,” “buds that dream”, “new born leaves” and “flame of her marriage fire” and the ‘tinkling’ sound. They beautifully describe the scene.
Alliteration is a poetic device denotes the consonant sounds that are repeated in two or more words in a sentence. In this poem, we could see that the sound ‘h’ is repeated in two lines that are located next to or near each other. “Or, rich with the hue of her heart’s desire” and “Whose hands have cherished, whose love has blest”.
The poet uses the rhetorical question in the first passage, which pays the way for further development in the poem. While advertising the quality of their bangles, also while wondering about his/her prospective customer the speaker asks, “Who will buy these delicate, bright/ Rainbow-tinted circles of light?”
The poet has used the rhetorical device anaphora when describing the ideal wife or a complete woman. Consecutive three lines in the last stanza begin with the word “and” making emphasis on the incidents marking woman a good wife.
Analysis of The Bangle Sellers
Bangle sellers are we who bear
Our shining loads to the temple fair…
Who will buy these delicate, bright
Rainbow-tinted circles of light?
Lustrous tokens of radiant lives,
For happy daughters and happy wives.
In the first stanza of ‘The Bangle Sellers’, the poet refers to the bangle sellers who go to the temple fair. They carry their “Shining loads,” representing the heaviness of life upon them. It is made clear that they know that a temple fair is where they get to meet women of every age. They call out to the people to buy their bangles which are “delicate, bright, Rainbow-tinted circles of light.” The Bangles here are called as ‘lustrous tokens of radiant lives,‘ it relates to the Indian custom of associating bangles with happiness and prosperity.
Some are meet for a maiden’s wrist,
Silver and blue as the mountain mist,
Some are flushed like the buds that dream
On the tranquil brow of a woodland stream,
Some are aglow wth the bloom that cleaves
To the limpid glory of new born leaves
In the second stanza of ‘The Bangle Sellers’ the poet talk of the bangles of different colors, they have for young maidens. They are “Silver and Blue” like “the mountain mist,” “flushed”, like the flower buds growing beside “a woodland stream” and “green” like “new born leaves.” The poet using “flushed like the buds that dream” to describe the color “pale or rosy red” could be an indication of “shyness” of young girls dreaming of marriage.
Some are like fields of sunlit corn,
Meet for a bride on her bridal morn,
Some, like the flame of her marriage fire,
Or, rich with the hue of her heart’s desire,
Tinkling, luminous, tender, and clear,
Like her bridal laughter and bridal tear.
In the third stanza of ‘The Bangle Sellers,’ the poet talks of the bangles, that is worn by brides on the day of their marriage. The colors of bridal bangles “Yellow” and “Red” are compared to the “fields of sunlit corn,” “flame of her marriage fire,” and the “hue of her heart’s desire.” The bangles are “tinkling, luminous, tender and clear” like her “bridal laughter” of starting the new life and “bridal tear” of leaving her parents behind. The final line of this stanza captures the bittersweet transition of Indian women, leaving their family to her husband’s home after marriage.
Some are purple and gold flecked grey
For she who has journeyed through life midway,
Whose hands have cherished, whose love has blest,
And cradled fair sons on her faithful breast,
And serves her household in fruitful pride,
And worships the gods at her husband’s side.
The final stanza of ‘The bangle Sellers,” describe the bangles the bangle sellers have for a middle-aged married woman. The stanza gives insight into the image of a complete woman in a patriarchal society, especially in the Indian context. The ideal wife begets sons, serves her household in a fruitful way. She must worship “gods at her husband’s side”. The colors of the bangles also not so bright as in the previous stanzas. The bangles in “purple” and “gold-flecked grey” represent a quiet contented life. The poet’s use of “cradled fair sons” suggests the ingrained attitude of male preference in the time of Sarojini Naidu’s times.
About Sarojini Naidu
The Nightingale of India, Sarojini Naidu, lived between 1879 and 1949, was an Indian political activist and poet. She was the first female Indian governor of Uttar Pradesh in independent India. Songs (1895), The Golden Threshold (1905), The Bird of Time (1912), and The Broken Wing (1917) comprises all the poems of Sarojini Naidu. She became a close associate of Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Mahatma Gandhi during the Indian Freedom Struggle. Also, she was a good friend of Rabindranath Tagore and Sarladevi Chaudhrani.