Are You Looking For That Poet? by Vihang Naik

Within ‘Are You Looking For That Poet?’ Naik discusses the perceived traditional role of poets in society. He deflects any attempts at aggrandizing a poet’s place in the social order and makes sure the reader is prepared to be disappointed by the lack of intrinsic knowledge a writer may possess. The poem speaks on themes of art, knowledge and identity. 

 

Summary of Are You Looking For That Poet?

‘Are You Looking For That Poet?’ by Vihang Naik is a straightforward discussion of the honest, human role of poets in contemporary society. 

The poem takes the reader through the traditional imagery associated with poets and poetry. They are usually considered to be transcendent and all-knowing as if oracles. This is not the case though. They are subject to the same irritations and stresses as all human beings. They might not, the speaker warns, have all the answers the “Reader” is looking for. 

You can read the full poem here.

 

Structure of Are You Looking For That Poet?

Are You Looking For That Poet?’ By Vihang Naik is a twenty line poem that’s divided into stanzas of varying lengths. These range from two lines up to four. Naik did not choose to make use of a specific rhyme scheme within the text, but there are examples of half-rhyme, also known as slant or partial rhyme. These are seen through the repetition of assonance or consonance. This means that either a vowel or consonant sound is reused within one line or multiple lines of verse. Examples can be seen throughout the poem, including “among” and “song” in lines thirteen and fourteen. 

There are also a few moments of full, internal rhyme within ‘Are You Looking For That Poet?’ It is a kind of rhyme that’s not constrained to the end of the lines but can appear anywhere. For instance, “roses” and “poses” in line ten. 

 

Poetic Techniques in Are You Looking For That Poet?

Within ‘Are You Looking For That Poet?’ Naik makes use of several poetic techniques. These include alliteration, enjambment, and caesura. The latter, caesura, occurs when a line is split in half, sometimes with punctuation, sometimes not. The first line, “In this age, dear Reader”. 

Alliteration is another important technique. It occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same letter. For example, “singing” and “song” in line fourteen and “birds and bees” in line fifteen. Or, in the last line of the poem, “tired tongue”. 

Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. There are examples throughout the poem, especially considering the general short phrases the poet makes use of. For example, the transition between lines sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen: Nowadays / he is a man like / you and me”. 

 

Analysis of Are You Looking For That Poet?

Lines 1-4

In the first lines of ‘Are You Looking For That Poet?’ The speaker begins by directing his words to the reader. He tells them not to “look for a poet” who would speak to “you” of transcendent, otherworldly imagery. As an example, he uses “the secrets of a mermaid”. This gets at the presumed nature of poetry and poets. That they, as artists, writers, and philosophers, should be able to convey to the reader some integral truth about the world, human nature or God.

The speaker is trying to convince the “Reader” that this is not the case. They should not be looking for poets to provide them with all the answers. As the poem later states, they are humans, liable to the same weaknesses as everyone else. 

 

Lines 5-8 

In the next stanza, which is four lines long, the speaker expands on the ocean imagery associated with the mermaid in line four. He tries to warn the reader away from depending too much on the traditional poetic insights that writers are meant to produce. The “Oceanic surf,” or the ocean itself, might “not have that meaning” a reader is looking for. There may not be wisdom inherent to a natural space, nor may a poet be able to convey it if there is. 

He continues on, expanding to speak about “Oracles”. An oracle, someone wise, and often able to look into the future, does not exist. There is no one who can read the “Signs and Judgements”. 

 

Lines 9-11 

The next three lines are solemn, but the use of the internal rhyme in line ten hints at the general poetic undertones the work has. The techniques Naik makes use of play into, but also contrast with, the concept at work in ‘Are You Looking For That Poet?” His speaker is expressing their doubt in the wisdom of poets, but at the same time, is through poetry trying to get his point across. 

Everything will be “dying” tomorrow, he adds.  Whether that “thing” be “roses” or “poses”. A rose is a perfect example of a symbol that might be found in poetry. It represents love, life and sustained passion. But here, it is seen to be dying alongside the word “poses”. This word is more complex. It refers, perhaps, to the mask one might put on. The “pose” or position they take. The “pose” of the poet, or any writer or artist,  has traditionally been similar to that of an oracle. 

 

Lines 12-15

The poem begins to conclude in line twelve as the speaker states, very simply, that the “muse” might have “left him,” referring to a generalized image of a poet. This person does not have sustained access, or if this poem is taken to be the truth, any access to a higher purpose, realm or knowledge. 

Naik’s speaker hedges his bet, suggesting that maybe, he might not be “among / clouds singing a song / of birds and bees”. The “he” in these lines, representing all poets, might not float in the clouds, transcendent and all-knowing. 

 

Lines 16-20 

In the next, and last, lines of ‘Are You Looking For That Poet?’ the speaker states that “he,” the poet, is a “man like / you and me”. He is the same as everyone else, living, human and undeniably mortal. “He” will act as anyone would in the wider world. His emotions are subject to stress and irritation and his words might come out “stale” produced from a “tired tongue”. 

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