Symbolism in Nissim Ezekiel’s Enterprise

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Nissim Ezekiel is one of the prolific Indian writers in English of the 20th century. He was playwright, editor, critic and poet. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for his Poetry collection, ‘Latter-Day Psalms. He was also awarded the Padma Shree by the Government of India in 1988. He is often called the “Father of Modern Indian English Poetry.” Ezekiel’s poetry has different themes and styles. His poems are a depiction of his craftsmanship, restraint and intellectual approach to everyday life. It revolves around a metaphorical journey of man on this earth followed by hardships and failures which man is subjected to by the very nature of the earthly life that he leads.
The poem ‘Enterprise’ is written in a conventional form. The poem consists of six stanzas, each having five lines.  The poet has used verbal antithesis to achieve a balance. Antithesis is a contrast or opposition in the meanings of contiguous phrases, lines or stanzas.


‘Enterprise’ is a symbolic poem. Symbolism refers to the use of symbols to represent ideas or facts. The various symbols used in Enterprise are listed below:

*Pilgrimage in the poem symbolizes life.
*The ‘crowd of pilgrims’ symbolizes a group of men, who undertake to achieve common goal which begins with excitement and hope but ends with disillusionment and frustration.


*The ‘Sun’ is the symbol of hostility of nature towards human aspirations and ambitions.
*A ‘desert patch’ is symbolic of the challenges and hardships which the group faces or the differences that rise among them.
* ‘A shadow falls on us and grows’ is symbolic of the differences in opinion that leads to a discord in the enterprise and consequently, a member leaves the group and the disharmony grows.
* ‘A straggling crowd of little hope’ symbolizes a group of people who had a well focused goal and during the course of their journey loses their zeal and becomes a crowd of aimless and frustrated wanderers.
* ‘Thunder’ is symbolic of man’s inner voice.
* ‘Home’ symbolizes remaining rooted to the soil or remaining true to oneself.
. The poem ‘Enterprise’ is allegorical in nature. The group of men all set for the journey, enthusiastic and full of vigour set out for the spiritual quest. They face hardships, difficulties yet they do not lose their aspirations. But during the second stage of their journey, disharmony and differences in opinions among the members arises and soon a conflict breaks out which results in disunity. The journey here is a metaphor of life. The poem is a stark depiction of the condition of men on this earth who are subjected to such failures, hardships and disillusionment during their course of journey of life.

You may also want to take a look at this Video Playlist to Learn More about this poem in an audio-visual format!

3 Comments
  1. […] Symbolism in Nissim Ezekiel’s Enterprise […]

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