‘29 April 1989’ is written by Sujata Bhatt, a poet of Indian origin. It was originally published in her third collection of poetry, Monkey Shadows (1991). This autobiographical piece is about the pleasure one can find in nature accidentally. It can happen at any moment, irrespective of the mood or mental state of the observer. This suddenness, subtlety, and beauty of nature make one forget about who they are or what they are supposed to do. There is no other way apart from entirely surrendering oneself to this “rich round fullness” that Bhatt talks about in her poem.
Explore 29 April 1989
‘29 April 1989’ by Sujata Bhatt describes how the speaker spends time with herself after her infant daughter gets to sleep.
This poem is about one afternoon when the poet gets her infant daughter to sleep. When she sleeps, she somehow manages to get some time to do the things she likes. On one such afternoon, after her daughter falls asleep, she finds it hard to decide what to do. It is drizzling outside. The trees are soggy and greyish green. She prepares an ample quantity of Assam tea and scrolls through her books and papers. The springtime drizzle of Bremen makes her forget why she opened the books. She just touches her favorite ones and immerses herself in the moist “fullness” present in the air. It feels like she has become part of one of Beethoven’s piano compositions.
You can read the full poem here.
She’s three-months-old now,
with endless Bremen-Spring drizzle.
The title of Sujata Bhatt’s lyrical piece ‘29 April 1989’ has nothing special to offer to readers. It is just a date in the calendar that is like any other date. After reading the poem, readers can realize what makes the day, especially the date, so special that Bhatt uses it as the title. Firstly, she talks about her daughter, who was three-month-old at the time of writing the poem. This personal poem is about one drizzling afternoon of spring. The use of present tense signifies that the poem was written right after the poet felt like penning down her thoughts regarding the afternoon.
In the poem, readers can find that the poet’s infant daughter has gone to sleep only for the afternoon. It means she can wake up at any moment and would cry if she finds her mother is not at her side. While she sleeps, she manages to get some time for herself apart from her daily chores. Being a mother of an infant is not easy. One has to remain invested in her care. So, the speaker finds it quite difficult to figure out what she should do when she gets some free time.
While the speaker cannot make sense of how to make most of her available time, everything outside keeps going at its own pace. For instance, the trees change their attire in the incessant spring drizzle. The poet takes special note of the springtime rain in Bremen, Germany, where she resides.
I make a large pot of Assam tea
just touching my favourite books.
Not knowing what to do, the speaker somehow feels like having a cup of tea to spend the afternoon. She prepares a large pot of Assam tea, one of the aromatic tea varieties exported from India. Like Darjeeling tea, Assam tea is also famous for its aroma and flavor. After making tea, she searches through her books. She does not know what she is trying to find. Somehow, she tries to get rid of this sense of pointlessness. This is why she continues to look through her papers.
At last, she admits that she is not looking for anything important. To be true to her audience, she confesses that she is just touching the books she loves to read. In this way, she tries to find a purpose to spend her afternoon. Besides, she remains alert as her daughter can get up at any moment. She does not explicitly state it, but readers can figure out that her mind is seeking an escape or a momentary relief. At the same time, she is thinking about her daughter.
I don’t even know what I’m thinking,
In the last lines of ‘29 April 1989,’ the poetic persona taps on to her real feelings. She states how even in her momentary pointlessness, she finds a sort of solace and relief brought about by nature. She creates contrast by describing how her mind is devoid of thoughts and the air is pregnant with pleasing moisture. The “rich round fullness” is also a metaphor for a ripe, round fruit ready to be plucked and eaten. This fullness in the air fills her heart with priceless pleasure.
She resorts to Beethoven’s melodious piano compositions in order to describe the atmosphere. The musicality of nature encapsulates her soul in a manner that she feels like she is part of some divine composition. Furthermore, she feels like her mind is inside Beethoven’s piano. It is part of the melody the maestro created on a day he was at his best. Besides, the lethargic mood of the overall poem, the last line instills energy and happiness in readers’ hearts.
Structure and Form
Bhatt’s ‘29 April 1989’ is a personal poem written from the first-person point of view, using the free-verse form. There is no regular rhyme scheme or meter in the poem. The text comprises 17 lines that are packed into a single stanza. Bhatt uses short lines ending with a full stop in the beginning. At the ending of the poem, the lines are held together loosely. The poem ends with a line consisting of only two words, “particularly energetic.” Besides, there are a number of metrical pauses or caesuras that enhance the rhythm and help readers understand the speaker’s mood.
In the poem ‘29 April 1989,’ Bhatt uses the following literary devices:
- Enjambment: It occurs throughout the poem. The use of run-on lines can be found in the very beginning: “She’s three-months-old now,/ asleep at last for the afternoon.”
- Alliteration: The alliteration of the “g” sound occurs in “greyish green” and the repetition of the “r” sound can be found in “rich round.”
- Metaphor: The phrase “a rich round fullness/ in the air” contains a metaphor. Bhatt implicitly compares the fullness of the moist air to ripe, round fruit.
- Simile: In line 15, Bhatt compares her room filled with moist air to the inside of “Beethoven’s piano.” This “piano” is an allusion to Beethoven’s piano compositions.
- Imagery: Bhatt uses visual imagery in “Outside everything is greyish green and soggy/ With endless Bremen-Spring drizzle.” These lines also contain tactile imagery (the moistness of the air) and auditory imagery (the sound of drizzle).
Sujata Bhatt’s poem ‘29 April 1989’ is about a particular afternoon of the spring season when the poet found exquisite pleasure by remaining invested in nature’s drizzling musicality. She describes how she felt that afternoon after her infant daughter went to sleep.
The poem ‘29 April 1989’ was written, as the title conveys, in 1989 when the poet was living in Bremen, Germany, with her infant daughter and husband. It was first published in her third collection of poetry entitled Monkey Shadows in 1991.
In this poem, Bhatt introduces and explores the themes of motherhood, nature, moment, and pleasant pointlessness. This poem is based on the contrast between the internal state of the speaker and the external environment.
Here is a list of incredible poems that similarly explore the themes present in Bhatt’s short, lyrical piece ‘29 April 1989.’ You can also dive into more Sujata Bhatt poems.
- ‘The Night Dances’ by Sylvia Plath — This poem laments the idea of eternal emptiness that comes after the fleeting beauty of the human experience.
- ‘In Your Mind’ by Carol Ann Duffy — This poem describes a detailed daydream in which the speaker embarks on a strangely familiar trip.
- ‘When The Rain Started Drizzling Into His Story’ by Riyas Qurana — This piece is about growth and moving on in life.
- ‘The Voice of the Rain’ by Walt Whitman — This poem’s speaker describes the nature of rain, poetry, and how they are connected through experience.
You can also explore these memorable motherhood poems.