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A Different History - Sujata Bhatt

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Antony Gao

on 11 October 2013

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Transcript of A Different History - Sujata Bhatt

A Different History - Sujata Bhatt
The Poem itself
Great Pan
is not dead;
he simply emigrated
to India.
Here, the gods roam freely,
disguised as snakes or monkeys;
every tree is sacred
and it is a sin
to be rude to a book.
It is
a sin
a book aside
with your foot,
a sin
books down
hard on a table,
a sin
one carelessly
across a room.
You must learn how to turn the pages gently
offending the tree
from whose the paper was made.
Stanza 2
Which language
Has not been the oppressor's tongue?
Which language
truly meant to
And how does it happen
that after the
after the soul has been
with a long
swooping out
of the conqueror's face
the unborn grandchildren
grow to love that strange language.
Structure Based Analysis
Distinctly the poem is broken into 2 stanzas, however these stanzas represent many aspects of the ideas she is trying to get across in this poem
Firstly, the poem represents two different times: the first stanza, represents India BEFORE colonization and the second stanza represents India DURING and AFTER British colonization
The two stanzas also represents her dual identity, in that even she is not completely confident whether she is completely Indian or British
In the first stanza she is critical of India, despising the constant pressure to conform to expected standards, esp. in a religious context.
In the second, she is critical of Britain and the way they "harvested" a culture's soul.
Language Based - Stanza 2
stanza 2 begins with rhetorical questions, through this, Bhatt tries to emphasise the change by shifting the calm/peaceful mood into a more stresses(even hectic?) mood
also the word 'scythe' is used as a metaphor for how the conqueror's language as it crops and harvests a culture's soul and replaces it with it's own
it is clear in this stanza that the tone is angry and quite violent, brought about by words like 'murder', 'torture' and 'cropped'
Typical Exam Questions:
How does the Sujata Bhatt's "A Different History" and Norman MacCaig's "Summer Farm" convey the theme of identity?
How does "A different History" convey the importance of identity and culture?
How does "A different History" and another poem you have learned emphasize how we should behave to nature?
Language Based Analysis
Stanza 1
the repetition of the words 'a sin' and 'without' mimics the constant and persistent pressure in India to conform to expected standards
The constant allusion to gods "Great Pan" and "Sarasvati" helps her to emphasise the overwhelming presence in India in that they are constantly around but in different forms
the personification of trees give the poem a sense of spiritual presence as they can be found in everything 'to be rude to a book'
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