The Gift of India: Figures of Speech and Central Idea
“The Gift of India” is a tribute to the Indian soldiers who gave up their lives in several battles in order to honor their country’s pride. This is a poem in which Mother India herself speaks of the loyalty, strength, and devotion of her beloved children whom she sent to fight in foreign lands. Through this poem, the poet attempts to arouse a spirit of nationalism among the Indians. Sarojini Naidu presents her emotions of patriotism through the words of Mother India in the poem.
Mother India laments the loss of her brave children but at the same time, she is also proud of them for having fulfilled their duty towards their motherland with sincerity and enthusiasm. The thought of losing bright and young soldiers distresses Mother India but their determination and heroism make her proud. The poet hopes to witness a day when all the terror and horror would come to end. Mother India also hopes that the sacrifice of the lives of her children would be honored in the future when a new and peaceful world is built where there would be no need for battles and sacrifices anymore.
The Gift of India poem contains a number of figures of speech namely Personification, Simile, Metaphor, Alliteration, Oxymoron, and Rhetoric.
1. Personification – It is a figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstract ideas are invested with the attributes of living beings. The most evident example of personification in this poem is observed when the country India is given the emotions and attributes of a mother. The whole The Gift of India poem is narrated from the perspective of a mother who laments the loss of her sons but in the same time, is proud of their contributions to live up to their global commitments. The entire poem is narrated in the first person narrative. For example, she calls the Indian soldiers her “Priceless treasures” torn from her breast. Other instances are of personification are –
“ Remember the blood of my martyred sons”
“ Can ye measure the grief of the tears I weep
Or compass the woe of the watch I keep?”
2. Metaphor – Metaphor is a figure of speech in which a comparison between two different things is implied, but not clearly stated.
For instance, in this poem, the Indian soldiers are compared to “Priceless treasures”.
3. Simile – It is a figure of speech in which a similarity between two different objects is stated explicitly, using the words ‘as’ or ‘like’.
For example, the gathered dead bodies of Indian soldiers in their graves are compared to pearls in their shells.
“Gathered like pearls in their alien graves”
“ Scattered like shells on Egyptian sands”
“They are strewn like blossoms move down by chance”
4. Alliteration – Alliteration is the close repetition of consonant sounds in a sentence.
“Silent they sleep…”
“Scattered like shells…”
“They lie with pale brows and brave, broken hands”
5. Rhetorical question – the Rhetorical question is a question asked in order to create a dramatic impact or make a point rather than to get an answer. An instance of rhetoric can be seen in the line, “Can ye measure the grief of the tears I weep
Or compass the woe of the watch I keep?”
6. Oxymoron – It is a figure of speech in which two contradictory terms appear together in a sentence. For example:
“ And the far sad glorious vision I see”
Rhyme Scheme: The Gift of India
Title: Rhyme scheme of “The Gift of India” by Sarojini Naidu
The Gift of India poem is composed of 24 lines that follow a very simple and patterned rhyming scheme. All the 4 stanzas in the poem follow the same pattern as every line in the poem rhymes with the next line. For instance –
“Is there aught you need that my hands withhold,
Rich gifts of raiment or grain or gold?
Lo! I have flung to the East and West
Priceless treasures torn from my breast,
And yielded the sons of my stricken womb
To the drum-beats of duty, the sabers of doom.”
In the first paragraph, every line rhymes with the next line, making the rhyming scheme aabbcc. ‘Withhold’ rhymes with ‘gold’, ‘West’ rhymes with ‘breast’, ‘womb’ rhymes with ‘doom’.
Again, in the second stanza, the same pattern is repeated.
“Gathered like pearls in their alien graves
Silent they sleep by the Persian waves,
Scattered like shells on Egyptian sands,
They lie with pale brows and brave, broken hands,
They are strewn like blossoms move down by chance
On the blood-brown meadows of Flanders and France.”
Similarly, in the third and fourth paragraphs follow the same rhyme scheme- aabbcc.