The Lotus-Toru Dutt
Toru Dutt: - (1856-1877)
She belonged to wealthy and educated family. Her parents were literary personalities. She was fragile but powerful in sensitivity. Life was as she saw a few deaths. In a very short life she left behind a rich tradition. Her Education in Bengal, England and France has helped a lot to her poetic career. “A Sheaf Gleaned in French” is a collection of translations. Her creative poetic collection is “Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan” published in 1882. “Miscellaneous Poems” is another collection. She wrote short lyrics, odes and sonnets in which her talent is seen.
Basically she is a romantic poet. Her description of nature is very fine and fascinating. There is moral tone but it is saved because of her lyrical output. Her sensitive, intense nature adds charm. Sincerity of mind; finely knit content; vigorous, pleasing sound’ and sense make her word value. Nostalgic mood,, variety of description, dialogues etc. rise to the occasion and she manages to versification. ‘Lotus, ‘Prahalad’, ‘Savitri’, ‘Our Casuarina Tree’ and ‘Baugmaree are some of her beautiful poems.
The poem tells us the story of the birth of the lotus flower. There was a conflict between the Lily and the Rose about their claim of the Queen. Psyche (love) goes to Flora (the Queen of Gardens) to fins the answer. Psyche asks such a flower that should be delicious as the rose and stately as the lily. The combination of both these things is the lotus. She gives Psyche this flower which is rose-red and lily-white. Even the strife between the two is known to other flowers. Often they talked about this as this was a quarrel since long long time. Even the praises of each were sung by the poets but there was no solution. Some claimed that Rose can not tower like Lily. Lily hides beauty of Rose. Lily’s appearance is majestic. The look is fascinating. But rival is also beautiful. Out of two certainly rose is lovelier. Rose is delicious and Lily is stately. Rose is soft, Lily is proud. There was no end of this dispute.
Lotus’s demand to solve the problem:-
Love was confused. She wanted peace in the garden. As the rivals were constantly quarreling it was better to find some solution. At last Love went to Flora. She put the trouble before. She demanded delicacy of rose and stateliness of lily. But there was the problem of colour. Flora asked her of a particular colour. This troubled her more. First she chose red. Then she withdrew it and thought another option. She pointed lily-white colour. But soon she found trapped. As there was no way she placed third option - combination of these both colors. Finally Flora saved the riddle. She made a new flower. It was lotus. She gave it her. The lotus had both the qualities. It was rose red and lily white as well as stately and beautiful. It became queenliest of all flowers.
Love and Flora both are related to Greek and Roman myths. In Latin mythology love is Cupid. He is the son of goddess Venus. He was beautiful. He loved a beautiful maiden Psyche. She too returned his love as well King of gods Jupiter brings union for both of them.
Flora in Roman mythology is Goddess of Flowers and springtime. She is a beautiful maiden. She wears a crown of flowers.
In Greek mythology there are lotus eaters. The people who ate the fruit of lotus tree forget their friends and homes. They also lost desire to return to their native and but this has nothing to do with our poem.
Description of nature & Natural aspects:-
Toru is a poet of nature. This poem reveals her “keen sensitiveness to nature and the responsiveness of her soul to colour”. She notices flowers minutely. Her imagination is supreme. Qualities of rose and lily have been brought out. Garden, flower colours make a link. It gives any reader a joy to be in touch with the following lines are described well.
“Give me a flower delicious as the rose
And stately as the lily in her pride.”
“The rose can never tower,
Like the pale lily with her pride.”
The solution is still more beautiful.
“And Flora gave the lotus, “rose red” dyed
And “lily-white”, queenliest flower that blows”.
Love is personified. The myth of Love is taken here. Even Flora is the same. They are known to us. The influence of Greek and Roman literature is seen on many poets. But the rose and the lily are personified as well. But these are women and as women they are conscious of beauty so are these flowers. Human quality of becoming superior to other is noticeable. Both of them are fighting for supreme title of Queen. They have their factions too. This is an excellent example Toru’s wonderful imagination.
Similes and Metaphor:-
The description has become colourful and vivid as similes and metaphors have been used. “Rose can never tower like pale lily” is one simile. Another is “a flower delicious as the rose”. The third is “stately as the lily.”
Lotus is considered “queenliest” of flower. The flowers are “rivals”. They think of ‘high honour’. One can not tower’ the other. Thus these words indicate metaphor of flowers.
Dialogues and Description:-
The poet has used both these techniques. She begins with description. Love goes to Flora. The poet describes first the ‘problems’ and the same is told to Flora in the dialogues. They are short and pointed. Clear, cut demands and solutions have been sought out. Short dialogues of love show her curiosity and impatient mind. She fumbles in the choice if beautiful shown through affirmation and negation. The used of hyphen tells this all. Notice the dialogue.
“But of what colour? – “Rose-Red” love first chose,
Then prayed, - “No, lily-white, - or, both provide”.
In the ends the poet describes the solution. Thus she follows a scientific method: first problem then solution- then better options and finally the solution.
Simplicity of diction:-
The diction of the poem is very simple. Straight forward matter has been put. Looking the following lines.
- Love came to Flora.
- The rose can never tower.
- Give me a flower.
- And Flora gave the lotus.
- But is the lily lovelier?
- Then prayed
- Love first chose etc.
This shows the poet’s style. But she avoids prosaic quality. This simplicity becomes a virtue. It shows her natural output the phrases put together make them poetic. The clauses used with them add charm e.g.
“Love came to Flora asking for a flower
That would be of flowers be undisputed queen.”
“The rose can never tower
Like the pale lily.”
Use of adjective is remarkable. Instead of saying red like rose she puts rose red and the same for “lily-white”. Instead of saying “provide both”. The description is ‘both provide’. Because of such small things diction is remarkable.
Repetition is one system to create music in the following lines.
“Love came to Flora asking for a flower”. (/f/, /l/ and /r/ sound).
“But is the lily lovelier?” (Combination of /i/ sound)
In pairs many words sound is beautiful e.g.
“Flower faction’, ‘pale lily’, ‘rose red’, ‘their claims’.
Repetition lf some words like ‘long’, ‘flower’, and ‘rose’, ‘lily’ not only continue to remind the content matter but also strengthen it. These all sorts of sounds make the poem sweet.
The poem follows a rhyme scheme of ‘abba abba cd cd’. Toru is trying to follows Italian rhyme scheme’. At the end it breaks but in the earlier part the scheme runs well.
This is an example of what the poet did at the early age. A poetic beauty is notable.