An October Morning Jayanta Mahapatra This poem deals with nature. A typical October morning is described. Dawn appears through trees. A mole moves behind a log. The sound of a truck starting can be heard in the background. The sudden sound reminds him of an unanswered question with which he had gone to sleep. A flight of parakeets hovers in the sky. The birds fly in the direction of a dried out river. The atmosphere is silent. The cries of birds fill up the mind with feelings of fear and anxiety. A rotting log can be seen by the bank. The path gradually fades away. The poet asks whether we know what we really are. It is by pursuing the dreams that we get to know what we really are. But we do not often pursue them as we treat them as something like symbols. Sometimes a single cry can prevail against combined might of the evil forces. We had seen, in the past, similar mornings with light spreading on the hill top. Watching that light heralding the advent of day we quite forget about our own mortality. The light makes us breathless. The chime of bells in a temple comes streaming over the housetops like a flock of pigeons. The morning has come like a jackal looking out a hole. Two women shout at each other near the water tap. Two boys can be seen. They have felt their parents’ wrongs. We are not yet ready for answers to the body where we would recoil to hide again. Lines 1-8: The poem opens with an imagery of an October morning. Dawn appears through the thickly growing trees. A mole moves swiftly away behind a log lying on the ground. The sound of a truck starting can be heard in the background. It sounds like a jerking, sudden start as if one remembers a forgotten question all of a sudden. The poet might have gone to bed the previous night with an unanswered question. That had been vexing him. Now also it is reverberating in his brain. There us a flight of parakeets in the sky. Their cries trail off into silence as they move out into the far distance. Those birds fly out to the direction of a dried out river. The river is bearing the burnt of drying silently like a stoic. There is silence everywhere. Lines 8-20: The cries of the birds fill up and empty the mind with various emotions. There are feelings of fear, anxiety and also mixed feelings. The morning light reveals a path passing along the side of the decaying timber by the shore of the river. The path gradually trails away towards the human habitat quietly. The poet asks a question. How do we know what we really are? It is only when we pursue our dreams that we realise what really are like. Our dreams are so unreal that we treat them as symbols. They are distant. We do not even make an attempt to achieve them. A human being thinks of destroying his fellow beings. Sometimes a lone crya singular effort- can overcome the combined might of the evil forces. The poet is reminded of the similar morning in the past where he could see light spreading on the hill top announcing the advent of another day. When we watch that superb reddening of the sky at dawn we forget about our own mortality. The reference is just not only to the real dawn but also to all dawn- like experiences, like the feeling of love. Lines 20-30: The light surrounding us can make us breathless by revealing certain things. We listen to the chime of the bells of the temple as it comes streaming over the housetops like a flock of pigeons. The morning has finally arrived. It is compared to a jackal looking out of a hole, its clay bank habitat. The morning is also associated with two dark-eyed women shouting at each other near the public water tap. The morning brings to light two boys, knowing the wrongs that their parents have suffered adult action. The poet says that the arrival of morning has not prepared us for answers. (The question in line 3 and ‘cries’ repeated in subsequent lines are referred to). Finally a radiant spectrum of light penetrates all the dark corners in our body where would recoil to hide again. The reality obliges us to confront it, making it no longer possible for us to hide from it. It seems that we love our own ignorance and the resultant darkness and we hate knowledge or light but reality forces us to confront it. It becomes impossible for us to evade it.
An October Morning works on two planes:- natural and symbolical. The language is sophisticated and there are strange uses of similes. Although it is a natural poem in approach, yet it has philosophical overtones because its images can be interpreted in various ways. The first light on the village awakens everything. After describing the early dawn, the poet asks two questions: ‘How do we know what we are like?’, ‘And what a lone cry does sometimes……where man can dream up ways to pray on his own kind? The answeres are difficult to get and can have many interpretations. He himself, says at the end of the poem that we are not ready for answers yet. The sunrise has not changed us a bit. Our sense and sensibilities are sullen and dim. We love our own ignorance and hate light to prove the truthfulness of the proverb, “Where ignorance is bliss,