Summary And Analysis Of Songs of Radha: The Quest by Sarojini Naidu

About the Poet :

Sarojini was the talented daughter of Dr. Aghorenath Chattopadhyaya. She was born in Hyderabad in 1879. She passed the matriculation examination at the tender age of twelve and went to England for higher studies. While she was studying in England, her teacher. Sir Edmund Gosse, a noted English critic, discovered her genius and pronounced that she had the making of a gifted poet. She was encouraged by her friends and admirers to write poems. She took a leading part in the nationalist movement for the liberation of India from the yoke of British rule. Her poems have been published in three volumes-The Golden Threshold, The Bird of Time and The Broken Wing

Characteristics of Sarojini Naidu as a Poet: Mrs. Naidu’s early poetry is imitative. She started writing poetry in imitation of the Georgians. She was influenced by the Georgious style of the Decadents and Aesthetes. She came under the spell of the Victorian Romantics and hence her poems are full of decorative imagery and jewelled expressions. Later she turned to Indian themes connected with both Hinduism and Islam. She wrote about the cultural life of Hyderabad. Her poetry is noted for its soft and subtle music. She has been rightly described as the Nightingale of India for the musical quality of her verse and of her speeches.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru described Sarojini Naidu as “a person of great brilliance”. She had so many gifts, but above all some gifts which made her unique. She began life as a poetess. In later years, as Nehru points out, when the compulsion of events drew her into the national struggle and she threw herself into it with all the zest and fire that she possessed, she did not write much poetry with pen and paper, but her whole life became a poem and song. And she did that amazing thing: she infused artistry and poetry into our struggle for national liberation. Just as the Father of the Nation had infused moral grandeur and greatness into the struggle, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu gave it artistry and poetry and that zest for life and indomitable spirit which not only faced disaster and catastrophe, but forced them with a light heart and with a song on her lips and smile on her face.

Like Rabindranath Tagore and Aurobindo, Sarojini Naidu too was more than a poet. She was one of Mother India’s most gifted children. She was a great freedom fighter and brilliant orator. She was the talented daughter of Dr. Aghorenath Chattopadhyaya. She was born in Hyderabad. After passing the matriculation examination at the age of twelve, she went to England and studied at London and Cambridge Universities. It was an English poet that Sarojini Naidu first caught the attention of the public, but that was only the beginning. In course of time she became a great freedom fighter. She came under the influence of the great nationalist leader, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and became a politician and a social worker. She was imprisoned several times while fighting for India’s freedom. After the attainment of freedom, she occupied several important posts. She died in 1949 while acting as Governor of Uttar Pradesh.

Sarojini was a poet right from her girlhood. At thirteen she composed an English narrative poem of about 2000 lines. Her early poems are English in matter and form. In England, she had associations with Arthur Symons. Edmund Gosse and some of the members of the Rhymers Club. This helped her to acquire the verbal and technical accomplishment and the mastery of phrase and rhythm. Her friend Edmund Gosse advised her to write on Indian themes. After reading her first poetical effusions, he felt that Sarojini had no doubt a new poet’s sensibility but she had been exercising it in a barren unprofitable way. What Gosse and the Western critics wished to receive from an Indian of extreme sensibility was not a rehash of Anglo-Saxon sentiment in an Anglo-Saxon setting but some revelation of heart of India. Though an Indian can write sensitively about robins and skylarks or about the English landscape, if he or she has the relevant experience. Yet Gosse’s advice to Sarojini had some point and urgency. And she was wise enough to follow the advice. Before long, she turned to Indian themes. Among her poetical works are The Sceptered Flute. The Broken Wing. The Golden Threshold. The Bird of Time and The Feather of the Dawn. Her poetic output is small but it is of uniformity high excellence. She herself was very modest about her work “I have the vision and the desire, but not the voice.” She compared the lyrical quality of the verse to the singing of bird “I sing just as birds do.” Her poetry is known for its sweet melody, smooth versification and rich imagination. She can sing naturally and her singing is cloyingly sweet. It is the singing quality of her verse that made her countrymen hail her as ‘The Nightingale of India. Bulbul-e-Hind.”

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Critical Appreciation – Songs of Radha : The Quest

Songs of Radha:

The Quest is a representative poem written by Sarojini Naidu. Sarojini Naidu was a major poet of Indo-Anglian school. She writes instant poetry where images and metaphors come rolling ready on the hotplates of imagination. Her poetry is intensely emotional, at times passionate to the point of eroticism and always has a spring-like lyricism. In her can be perceived the influence of the British Romantic poets, but what makes it interesting and relevant to the Indian tradition is the sustenance from the twin indigenous sources. She combines in many of her poems the classical Sanskrit tradition with the voluptuousness of Persian poetry. The present poem is a string of ten rhyming couplets. It is an expression of the intense and passionate love of the beloved for the lover whom she searches frantically at all times. Suddenly, she comes to realise that he lives within her own heart and it is foolish to search for him outside.

Radha is the beloved of Lord Krishna. She is in deep love with him. She loves Krishna so much that without him she feels like a fish out of water. In the absence of Lord Krishna, she moves from place to place and makes frantic search for him. She asks wind as to where Kanahaya is. She also goes to the forest and asks trees as to the where about of Krishna. In the evening she goes to the river-shore and asks the waves as to where her Flute-player lives. Radha gets no answer from the water, the forest and the wind. They do not know the place where Lord Krishna. lives. When Radha fails to get reply, she starts weeping by keeping her face upon her palm. She is in a mood of despair. Soon, her despair comes to an end when she listens to the laughter of Ghanshyam in her heart. He charges Radha of faithlessness because she searched for him in external world. He tells her that he is her part and parcel just as she is his part and parcel. Further, he tells Radha to look for him in the mirror of her heart. This poem is markable because it expresses the sincere feelings of the poet. As an archetypal divine-love song, it expresses excellently the Indian faith that God lives within one’s self. Tolstoy also realised that Kingdom of God is within. The language of Sarojini Naidu, here, is simple, sensuous and passionate.

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