You are on page 1of 2

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 cry-
a 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,