Summary of Dawn at Puri | Dawn at Puri | Dawn at Puri by Jayanta Mahapatra

     Dawn At Puri is a modern poem written in free verse by Jayanta Mahapatra  who was the first ever Indian English poet to win Sahitya Akademy Award for his book of verse, “Relationship” in 1981. He is highly dynamic poet who till now have produced sixteen volumes of poetry. This has earned him the fame of the poet producing the largest number of poems in English in India.

Summary of Dawn at Puri
Summary of Dawn at Puri

   This six stanza poem did not follow rhyme scheme as this poem is written in a free flowing thought or style.  Dawn At Puri is a successful imagist, nativist and post mordern poem. This poem Dawn at Puri taken from Jayanta Mahapatra’s fourth volume of poetry “A Rain of Rites”,  which speak of  the radical views of the poet which exclude him from the general crowed.

Summary of Dawn at Puri

    The poem “Dawn At Puri starts with the description of a skull upon holy sands of the famous temple – town Puri. This poem portrays a collage of bleak pictures observed by the poet himself in and around the famous Jagannatha Temple at Puri. The poem paints beautifully a morning landscape of the sandy beach at puri. 

     The Opening line of the poem marks the harsh cawing of the crows that announce the break of the day. The image of the crow suggest the existence of a wasteland full of striking refuse, corps and carcasses. The light of dawn unfolds a second image which is part of a skull on the ‘holy sands’. The sight of the skull speaks of the presence of a cremating ground.

  Symbolically however, it alludes to the abject poverty of people living in the area. This area, in turn, may be said to represent in miniature the entire country. The skull also acts as a symbol of death in whose shadow the widows described in the poem live constantly. The image of the skull may also signify the holloness of the gloryfide rites and rituals that feed the thoughts of the ardent devotees. 

     The poet then catches sight of a good number of ‘widowed woman’ in white garments waiting eagerly to step into the Great temple. The use of the term ‘widowed woman’ instead of the usual word ‘widows’ is noteworthy. It is society that reduces a woman to a widow – not that she becomes a widow only because her husband is dead.

  The state of being a widow means much more than the passing away of her husband. It enjoins her to observe strict rigour in her food habbit, dress and Lifestyle. They are merely breathing corpses as they have been made bereft of all joys, desires and insignificant by the society from the day of the death of their husband. It is as if they have also died with their husband in an informal manner and are waiting only to get a formal death certificate. 

    The Great Temple is an image of stability and permanence amid changeability. For the widows it is a symbol of hope, faith and spiritual salvation.

    By the side of the glowing eyes of the austere Widows, their lies the picture of a group of leprous. These leprous throng the place everyday to seek alms from the devotees. They are humble and lowly people so much so that they have almost their identity as human beings. 

       The poet cannot alienate himself from pervading milieu or ambience of decadence. A funeral pyre on the beach puts him in mind his mother’s last wish. His mother’s wished to be cremated at this Swargadwara, that is the gateway to Heaven. His mother’s long might have no practical logic. But a deep sense of faith underpins her last wish in life. This reference to the poet’s mother’s wish indicates the last wishes of many Indian women to be cremated in this Holy place.

   Though the poet is christian in religion, he is also an Indian and so he is well aware of the Hindu customs and belief systems. The picture drawn by the poet is realistic in nature with a touch of irony and satire. This poem in fact satirises the holiness associated with the life. 

   What is more is that he along with other indian English poets has created a new indian English ediom that gives ‘a local habitation and a name’ to post colonial poetry in our country. In this context “Dawn at Puri” is a successful post colonial poem apart from symbolic and imagist, nativist and post modernist.

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