The Gift of India by Sarojini Naidu: Themes
1. Patriotism- The theme of patriotism is the most evident theme in the poem. This theme of patriotism for the motherland runs in a lot of other poems by Sarojini Naidu. This poem is a tribute to the martyred Indian soldiers who gave up their lives in wars fought by the British during the first world war. Since the very beginning of the poem, this theme of patriotism is predominant. Mother India reminds the world of the priceless treasures that she has gifted the world. She has sent her sons to foreign lands to fight foreign wars. The Indian soldiers have fought in the battlefield with full vigor and enthusiasm. They have shed their blood and sweat to fight someone else’s war, to protect the honor of their motherland.
This poem brings forward the contributions of the brave soldiers of India in embodying the spirit of a brave country like India. Them evokes a sense of grief at the loss of the Indian soldiers who fought valiantly in the FIrst World War. However, a sense of pride overcomes the sense of despair as Mother India realizes the achievements of the soldiers. Sarojini Naidu tries to depict the pain of a mother whose son has been torn away from her bosom and buried in alien lands.
The poetess also presents a picture of the dead soldiers lying scattered in foreign soil with broken limbs and disfigured bodies. The ruthless manner in which they had been killed in the war in portrayed through a number of images. Their lifeless bodies lying like blossoms on blood-tainted battlefields brings a picture of the pain and suffering of the soldiers who gave their lives for their beloved motherland.
In the end, a note of optimism and hope overpowers the mood of the poem. The poetess anticipates a time when a man would be free from the shackles of dominance and cruelty and live in a world where hatred will be overpowered by love. She urges the world to pay respect and homage to the martyred soldiers for their heroism so that their names can be immortalized in the history as the brave men who died to protect the honor of the country. This poem glorifies the sacrifices of the soldiers for their motherland and raises a sense of respect and appreciation in the readers for the bold and patriotic Indian soldiers.
2. There is no glory in war- Literature has glorified wars and war-heroes for a very long time. Many writers and poets have justified wars by praising and romanticizing the war heroes. For several years, people regarded war as a manly endeavor. This notion was, however, shattered at the beginning of the 20th century when the horrors of the First World War left its mark on the human civilization. The innumerable death, the damage, and destruction of life and property, the brutality with which men killed each other and the new weapons and chemicals that were exposed to humanity, turned the gift of nature into a ‘Wasteland’ where ashes were found in place of flowers and blood in place of holy water.
In this poem, too, the horrors of war are depicted vividly. The image of the dead soldiers lying motionless “gathered like pearls in their alien graves”, with broken hands and severed limbs add a sad and pathetic note to the soldiers involved in wars. They are denied the proper respect of a burial as well as they lie in “alien graves”. Some lie dead by the Persian sea while others lie scattered like shells on the Egyptian sands. Their families do not get to see them for the last time. They lie colorless and lifeless, covered in blood, in the blood-tainted battlefields where nobody knows them. Thus, it will be right to say that although Sarojini Naidu urges people to pay a tribute to the dead soldiers, she also successfully brings forward the ruthlessness, savagery, and inhumaneness of wars.
The Gift of India by Sarojini Naidu: Tone of the Poem
The tone of the poem is predominantly patriotic. The speaker evokes a sense of patriotism as well as a kind of emotional response in the readers. The speaker of the poem is Mother India who expresses immense pride in the sacrifice of her sons to ensure a better future. Her sense of grief and despair at the loss of her sons is overwhelmed by a sense of pride in their achievements. The brave and courageous soldiers who lost their lives in foreign lands to serve British interests are given the utmost respect in this poem. Sarojini Naidu portrays a picture of the fearless soldiers who thought about the country’s pride before themselves. Being a patriot herself, Sarojini Naidu anticipates the existence of a world in which love overwhelms hatred, peace overwhelms chaos and harmony overwhelms wars. She repeatedly mentions the heroic deeds of the patriots who went to foreign lands to fight foreign wars just to make sure that they obey their call of duty.
The disheveled and fragmented bodies of the dead Indian martyrs on the blood-tainted battlefield brings forward a picture of the cruelty existing in the world. However, the speaker hopes that all these suffering and sacrifices would get the people of India a productive outcome. She prays for the dead soldiers and also for a better world devoid of savagery and brutality. There is a note of condescension of the British to the Indian soldiers as Sarojini Naidu suggests that the British eulogized their dead soldiers but not the Indians who supported them selflessly. The patriotic mood pervading the poem is intensified in the last stanza as the poetess urges people to respect and honor the soldiers who left everything behind just to live up to the global commitments of the nation.