Summary and Analysis of the Enterprise by Nissim Ezekiel

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.


How many of you have read T.S Eliot’s ‘The Journey of the Magi?’ While reading Enterprise, one may think of Eliot’s ‘The Journey of the Magi.’ Though that poem is different in approach but it is also about a very cold and tiring journey by three wise men in search of spiritual pacification. Enterprise is one of those wonderful poems published in Ezekiel’s collection of poems named ‘The Unfinished Man.’ 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, begins with a group of people which includes the poet himself (as it is clear from the use of ‘we’ in the sixth line) journeys to a holy place. At that time, their minds were full of ideas to reach their destination. Therefore, they started their journey with a lot of vigour and excitement, sure enough that they can easily overcome all the difficulties that they face. Inconveniences seemed insignificant to them. However, our real strength emerges when we face a crisis, isn’t it? Similarly, the travellers were full of enthusiasm and reached the second stage of their journey. During this second stage, they confronted the adverse natural difficulties, symbolizing the blazing Sun. But nothing could detain them from reaching their destination or take away their enthusiasm. Their passion to reach their destination was as hot as the blazing Sun above their heads. The heat of the sun is symbolic of Mother Nature being hostile towards human ambitions. The more the human beings aspire, the more the nature tries to put up a hindrance to beat them down.

Stanza 2:
The group of the travelers continues their journey, experiencing the difficulties put in their way. Carried away by the unrestrained excitement, the pilgrims kept a record of the events that they witnessed- goods being bought and sold by the peasants and the ways of serpents and goats. The travelers passed through three cities where a sage has taught. But they were unconcerned about what e taught or what his message was.

Stanza 3:
The third stanza talks about the differences that cropped up among the members which made a hole in their unity as they continued their journey. As they reached a desert, differences arose among on the question of how to cross the challenging landscape. One of the members, an excellent prose writer, left the enterprise. He was considered the most intelligent among the lot. Therefore, a shadow of discord fell onto their enterprise and continued to grow as one of the members parted from the group.

Stanza 4:
The poet describes the hindrances that follow the enterprise. In the next stage of their journey, the travelers are attacked twice and while saving themselves they lose their ways and forget the noble ambitions which had motivated them to come so far. The enterprise slowly breaks into two. Some of the members, claiming their freedom, quit the journey and went their own ways. The poet feels helpless and upset at the breaking of the enterprise, looking at the disorganized lot of pilgrims, the only thing he could do was to pray. And why do you think we pray? The answer is that the act of praying implies seeking the help of a divine personality when human efforts go in vain.

Stanza 5:
There is still an assurance from the leader of the group. He assures them that the sea or the destination was at hand. It seems that they members have lost their enthusiasm and hope as they see nothing noticeable as they move forward. The pilgrims have now turned into a crowd of aimless wanderers instead of being bounded by a well-focused goal like before. They were not bothered about the roar of the thunder; some of them were too exhausted to stand erect.

Stanza 6:
The final stanza of Enterprise is a relief to the readers, as the poet tells us that they did reach their destination in total disorder- exhausted and frustrated- and without any sense of satisfaction. Instead of bringing a sense of fulfillment and achievement, the journey had only brought them frustration. They now started to doubt the importance of their journey; they began to find it futile and meaningless. They found nothing heroic in their achievements. They had a belief that their journey would be unparalleled and that its success would give them a place in history. So was it disillusionment? They later realized that such a journey was already undertaken by others before them and would be repeated in the near futile. This gave them a sense of disillusionment and they felt the journey was futile. In the end, they feel that staying back home would have been better than venturing out on such a dangerous journey with disastrous consequences.

There might be a question that may come to our minds. That was the journey really a fruitful one or was it as the members think, meaningless? What are your views?

For a better understanding of the poem, the critical appreciation is discussed below, go to Page 2.

Pages: 1 2

I have done my M.A in English andI love reading good books and sharing knowledge with others. Thanks for appreciating.


  1. Mickey

    December 18, 2014 at 2:51 am

    With the ISC coming up you must be getting a lot of traffic. Oddly no one leaves a comment.

    • ayesha

      February 28, 2016 at 7:55 am

      I am totally in love with this website <3
      It provides the best notes!
      Even better than those given in the books like evergreen nd complete course :')

  2. subha

    December 31, 2014 at 7:39 am

    The above article is very useful for me.

  3. bishu

    January 10, 2015 at 6:58 am

    wow…. greatly… described… i study these notes… before my 11 th exams… and they proved to be vry for me in exams…

  4. Kalyan

    February 28, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    Nice article and helpful. The allegorical and metaphorical description, if elongated bit more, could be very nice.

  5. Shreya

    July 26, 2015 at 7:56 am

    A great explanation! Really helpful for students, like me, who do not take private English tuitions. Thank you!

  6. Advaith Arun

    August 1, 2015 at 6:36 am

    You are the sole reason of me doing well in my papers!

  7. Kim Jeeves

    October 27, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Amazing analysis , Thanks it helped a lot! 🙂

  8. Rohith

    November 17, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    This summary is very useful fir me since i am preparing for my s5 ba eng exam kerala university.thnk u sister

  9. ayush

    November 19, 2015 at 11:30 am

    helped a lot to me thanxs.

  10. ayush

    November 19, 2015 at 11:31 am

    thanx a lot

  11. nagajyothi

    November 30, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    i liked his simple way of expressing things

    • nagajyothi

      November 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm

      i am doing my b .a in english.this explanation helped me a lot.

  12. AhmadJavaid

    December 16, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    worth appreciating.

  13. Shreya

    December 24, 2015 at 1:21 am

    Nice explanation!! Really very helpful.. Thank you

  14. SONNY

    January 6, 2016 at 11:38 am

    This is so awesome. trust me the best sites for last minute preparations.
    Thank you for helping me

  15. servidores en lima

    January 9, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Yo no podía abstenerse de comentar. Perfectamente escrito!

  16. Mahima Singh

    January 24, 2016 at 5:13 am

    I love this..😀

  17. Shounak

    February 3, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Great.. very helpful to me to visualize the abstract situations. Thanks.

  18. Nitish jha

    February 23, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Nice amd helpful for me

  19. Aishwarya Verma

    February 24, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Superb site …i wish I visited this site a little earlier!!

  20. Angana

    February 27, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Thanks a lot, beaming notes! I love the analysis! thank you so much!

  21. Angana

    February 27, 2016 at 7:09 am

    A million times Thank you! Love the wonderful critical analysis!…

  22. Angana

    February 27, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Thankyou so much, beaming notes!

  23. Stone Cold

    February 28, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Forgot about historical significance. Stylish prose was the best of our batch is a clear reference to Jinnah. Could also explain religious aspect.

  24. Evelia Wada

    March 4, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    I’ve been looking on the web quite a few hours right now, but certainly not noticed any sort of attention-grabbing blog post just like the one you have. It truly is stunning worth sufficient in my opinion. In my personal opinion, if all site owners and bloggers created excellent written content resources you did, the online world will most likely be a lot more useful than everbefore.I may book mark this page !! Will certainly browse again !! Thanks on your useful content.

  25. Aadithya Krishna

    March 10, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Thank you for uploading the notes of the poem Enterprise..I’m using this for my exams.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest