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“To India – My native Land” by Derozio


I am not a poet and cannot write poetry but I am capable of appreciating good poems. I had started taking English poetry reading seriously during my class (grade) nine and ten, when we were to study a whole collection of poems as a part of our English syllabus (in I.C.S.E). Poetry had a profound influence on me and to this date I remember quite a few poems from my English poetry text book. I wish to post some of those poems here without which this diary will be so incomplete.

I am not aware of any copyright issues but would like to declare in this post that unless otherwise stated, no works of poetry published on this blog belong to me and I shall make every effort to mention the name of the poet clearly for each poem I post here.

About the Poet

(Short summary based on this Wikipedia article)

To India – My native land is a poem by Henry Louis Vivian Derozio. Derozio lived during the early 19th century. He was a teacher, a scholar, a poet and an academician of Eurasian and Portuguese descent. He considered himself to be an Indian and encouraged free thinking among his students. He oversaw the publication of a journal in which his student wrote against the British rule in India, orthodox Hindu practices and favored emancipation of women. The journal was banned and Derozio lost his job due to his unorthodox views.

His opposition to the British and the orthodox Hindu practices alienated him from both the society as well as the government. He spent his last days in penury, starvation and died of cholera at the age of 22.

It’s sad to know such a great thinker and poet had a sad end. Derozio was one of the few people who used to think much ahead of their times and is remembered as an intellectual anarchists of his times.

To India – My Native land

My country! In thy day of glory past

A beauteous halo circled round thy brow,

And worshipped as a deity thou wast.

Where is that glory, where that reverence now?

Thy eagle pinion is chained down at last,

And groveling in the lowly dust art thou:

Thy minstrel hath no wreath to weave for thee

Save the sad story of thy misery!

Well let me dive into the depths of time,

And bring from out the ages that have rolled

A few small fragments of those wrecks sublime,

Which human eyes may never more behold;

And let the guerdon of my labour be

My fallen country! One kind wish from thee!

- Henry Louis Vivian Derozio

Brief explanation (extended and updated on June 23. 2011)

In this poem, Derozio personifies India and talks to her in a monologue. Derozio talks about the glorious past of India. He tells her (while Derozio does not hint at what sex he personifies India as, I assume it to be a female because we always refer to a country as mother and in India we refer to our country as Bharat Mata (or mother India the diety)) that in her days of glory, she used to be regarded highly, worshipped  and was considered sacrosanct. But now (at the time of writing the poem) all this grandeur of hers is lost.

Derozio is evidently unhappy with the British rule in India and refers to the same in the line “The eagle pinion is chained down at last”, where eagle refers to India. It is believed that in early days of British rule, foreigners referred to India as the Golden Eagle or Golden bird as it was very rich and one of the largest producer of gold and diamonds. Foreign visitor were awed by the riches and hospitality that India offered.

However, the British rule and internal weaknesses brought the country slavery and demolished its pride and identity. This thought is clearly conveyed in the following line by Derozio: “And groveling in the lowly dust art thou”

There was an acute sense of hopelessness due to lack of freedom and stagnation in the standards of living. Derozio says that there is nothing more to write apart for the then current situation of the country (“no wreath to weave for thee, Save the sad story of thy misery“).

Therefore Derozio wishes to bring back / write about the past of India (“ages that have rolled”) by “diving into the depths of time” and bringing back its glory (“small fragments of those wrecks sublime”). This glorious past may be forgotten with time and people may never get to see or read about again (“Which human eyes may never more behold“).

As a reward for his labour, Derozio prays to his country to grant his wish i.e. return of the past glory and pride


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  • http://hirenshah.wordpress.com/ Hiren

    Though the poem is very good, it is somewhat degrading to think that India is either a land of the past or the land with the promising future but never a land of the present considering the fact that many great spiritualists have conveyed the importance of being in the present.

  • http://hirenshah.wordpress.com Hiren

    Though the poem is very good, it is somewhat degrading to think that India is either a land of the past or the land with the promising future but never a land of the present considering the fact that many great spiritualists have conveyed the importance of being in the present.

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    Welcome back Hiren,

    If you ask me what is the most important time? I’d say present because it is the only thing in our hand, when we have the ability to exercise our mental and physical power to improve upon the past and prepare (for) the future.

    However, I would also say that past, present and future are equally important as they are inseparably interrelated. Any action that is being performed in the present cannot be defined without reference to its trail or source in the past and its implication in the future. If one tries to single out the present, it has no meaning and basic questions like why, how, what and when cannot be answered.

    With reference to the poetry, as per my inference, the poet does not label India as a land of the past. Due to relentless exploitation, India had degraded (or as the history books say: bled white) during the British rule. On one front India intelligentsia was being exposed to (the then radical) western ideology and on the other they were realizing that their society is mired in orthodox/evil beliefs and rituals (e.g. sati). This may and in many cases did lead to development of inferiority complex among the students who would under such a pressure come to regard the British rule as correct and fail to see that they were being denied their fundamental right: freedom.

    During his days, Derozio, on one hand was trying to expose the evils in society and infuse free-thinking in his students and on the other he wanted to keep up the morale of his students so that their ability to think rationally is not overcome by emotions or embarrassment of nay sort. What could be a better way to do that, than to remind them of the glory of the past? From time immemorial, past has been very powerful in determining and shaping the events that take place in the present and everyone uses it to make ends meet.

    Therefore, the poet may appear to view the past with great reverence, but to me it appears to be a necessary exercise for establishing a cause–affect sequence. It is a reminder which encourages one to move ahead, perform and tell them that there is a lot to catch up with.

    Regards,

    Vivek

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    Welcome back Hiren,

    If you ask me what is the most important time? I’d say present because it is the only thing in our hand, when we have the ability to exercise our mental and physical power to improve upon the past and prepare (for) the future.

    However, I would also say that past, present and future are equally important as they are inseparably interrelated. Any action that is being performed in the present cannot be defined without reference to its trail or source in the past and its implication in the future. If one tries to single out the present, it has no meaning and basic questions like why, how, what and when cannot be answered.

    With reference to the poetry, as per my inference, the poet does not label India as a land of the past. Due to relentless exploitation, India had degraded (or as the history books say: bled white) during the British rule. On one front India intelligentsia was being exposed to (the then radical) western ideology and on the other they were realizing that their society is mired in orthodox/evil beliefs and rituals (e.g. sati). This may and in many cases did lead to development of inferiority complex among the students who would under such a pressure come to regard the British rule as correct and fail to see that they were being denied their fundamental right: freedom.

    During his days, Derozio, on one hand was trying to expose the evils in society and infuse free-thinking in his students and on the other he wanted to keep up the morale of his students so that their ability to think rationally is not overcome by emotions or embarrassment of nay sort. What could be a better way to do that, than to remind them of the glory of the past? From time immemorial, past has been very powerful in determining and shaping the events that take place in the present and everyone uses it to make ends meet.

    Therefore, the poet may appear to view the past with great reverence, but to me it appears to be a necessary exercise for establishing a cause–affect sequence. It is a reminder which encourages one to move ahead, perform and tell them that there is a lot to catch up with.

    Regards,

    Vivek

  • lalitha

    Hi Vivek

    I love this poem too… I had forgotten the lines and came across your diary when I was searching for it, thanks!

    just a couple of minor corrections if my memory serves me right…

    1. Thy (not the) eagle pinion is chained down at last
    2. Well – let me delve (not dive) into the depths of time,
    3. my fallen country! one kind wish FOR thee!

    thanks again,

    Lalitha

  • lalitha

    Hi Vivek

    I love this poem too… I had forgotten the lines and came across your diary when I was searching for it, thanks!

    just a couple of minor corrections if my memory serves me right…

    1. Thy (not the) eagle pinion is chained down at last
    2. Well – let me delve (not dive) into the depths of time,
    3. my fallen country! one kind wish FOR thee!

    thanks again,

    Lalitha

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    Hello Lalitha. Thanks for the inputs. I just procured the text book that contains this poem to read it and the others.

    1. It is indeed “thy” and I have made the change.
    2. Text book says “dive” (and it sounds ok), so I will keep it.
    3. Text book says “from” but “for” sounds right. However, I did not change it.

    Thanks once again for the inputs and visiting my blog.

    Regards,

    Vivek

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    Hello Lalitha. Thanks for the inputs. I just procured the text book that contains this poem to read it and the others.

    1. It is indeed “thy” and I have made the change.
    2. Text book says “dive” (and it sounds ok), so I will keep it.
    3. Text book says “from” but “for” sounds right. However, I did not change it.

    Thanks once again for the inputs and visiting my blog.

    Regards,

    Vivek

  • Cherry

    Hi Vivek
    Thanks for reproducing the poem..It’s indeed a sad commentary of the turbulent times that Derozio saw. It is also a poignant reminder that we need to love our much more than we do now. Some of the Anglo Indian community and the missionaries who visited India indeed fell in love with the country,, it’s richness & heritage.
    My grandfather, Late Anathbandhu Sen. a great scholar, was a great fan of Derozio, and had translated the above poem to Bengali, our mother tongue. I have still kept this translation safely, so many years after my grandpa’s demise. Thanks again.

  • Cherry

    Hi Vivek
    Thanks for reproducing the poem..It’s indeed a sad commentary of the turbulent times that Derozio saw. It is also a poignant reminder that we need to love our much more than we do now. Some of the Anglo Indian community and the missionaries who visited India indeed fell in love with the country,, it’s richness & heritage.
    My grandfather, Late Anathbandhu Sen. a great scholar, was a great fan of Derozio, and had translated the above poem to Bengali, our mother tongue. I have still kept this translation safely, so many years after my grandpa’s demise. Thanks again.

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    Hello Cherry. Indeed we must never forget the sacrifices made by our predecessors and the hardships in which they lived during those times. I hope to bring up more such poems on my blog and immortalize them in the minds of my readers.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and visiting my blog.

    Regards,

    Vivek

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    Hello Cherry. Indeed we must never forget the sacrifices made by our predecessors and the hardships in which they lived during those times. I hope to bring up more such poems on my blog and immortalize them in the minds of my readers.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and visiting my blog.

    Regards,

    Vivek

  • vallari

    dearest uncle vivek ,
    our teacher asked us to say a patriotic poem and i chose urs
    its nice
    thanx
    from ur wellwisher
    vallari

  • vallari

    dearest uncle vivek ,
    our teacher asked us to say a patriotic poem and i chose urs
    its nice
    thanx
    from ur wellwisher
    vallari

  • anshul

    Hi Vivek
    Thanks a lot for the reproduction of such a good work.I had only a few lines in mind of this beautiful poem ,which i read back in class eight.

  • anshul

    Hi Vivek
    Thanks a lot for the reproduction of such a good work.I had only a few lines in mind of this beautiful poem ,which i read back in class eight.

  • charudhi

    a good poem . im in 8 class. u suggest i should make corrections made by mr vivek

  • charudhi

    a good poem . im in 8 class. u suggest i should make corrections made by mr vivek

  • shilpa

    thanks it will help us in our project
    and remind about our history

  • shilpa

    thanks it will help us in our project
    and remind about our history

  • http://kpowerinfinity.wordpress.com/2007/08/14/swadheenta-diwas/ Swadheenta Diwas « kpowerinfinity

    [...] StubbornFanatic for putting it [...]

  • Noopur

    No, I am studying this poem…in fact my english exam is tomorrow…and from thee is right….

  • Noopur

    No, I am studying this poem…in fact my english exam is tomorrow…and from thee is right….

  • Anindya Dutta

    Thanks for this site .It is of great help to my son who is in Cl.8 and has this poem in his syllabus.

  • Anindya Dutta

    Thanks for this site .It is of great help to my son who is in Cl.8 and has this poem in his syllabus.

  • Abhilash pradhan

    I like this poem and I was searching for it many days. I am a student of class 9th.

  • Abhilash pradhan

    I like this poem and I was searching for it many days. I am a student of class 9th.

  • subhalaxmi dash

    i was searching for this poetry as it is in my ICSE syllabus. i am studying in 9th class.

  • subhalaxmi dash

    i was searching for this poetry as it is in my ICSE syllabus. i am studying in 9th class.

  • ANUSHREE MITTAL

    I have read this poem in class-8 it was in my syllabus and according to me this is a really good poem.

  • ANUSHREE MITTAL

    I have read this poem in class-8 it was in my syllabus and according to me this is a really good poem.

  • Sweta priya

    This poem is in my ICSE syllabus. I was searching for some thing that reveals its meaning. This poem will make every citizen feel great .

  • http://google Sweta priya

    This poem is in my ICSE syllabus. I was searching for some thing that reveals its meaning. This poem will make every citizen feel great .

  • ARIANA

    Plz can I get a detailed description of this poem because I want to know it deeply….I loved the theme of this poem and would want to know more…..

  • ARIANA

    Plz can I get a detailed description of this poem because I want to know it deeply….I loved the theme of this poem and would want to know more…..

  • manjir

    i think the poem reveals the true side of the nationalist ideals that prevailed in the early nineteenth century. however, derozio somewhat focuses on developing a thoughtful mind, in which he reveals the plight of india, and has infact criticised the contemporary indian nationalist struggle, by stating he has nothing to praise in that india, and has avoided the gallant movements made during that time.

  • manjir

    i think the poem reveals the true side of the nationalist ideals that prevailed in the early nineteenth century. however, derozio somewhat focuses on developing a thoughtful mind, in which he reveals the plight of india, and has infact criticised the contemporary indian nationalist struggle, by stating he has nothing to praise in that india, and has avoided the gallant movements made during that time.

  • http://www.diary.viveksanghi.com/ Vivek

    Hello Manjir. As I understand, Derozio believed that the British rule had ruined the country. He has not expressed any particular opinion regarding the Indian freedom struggle at least in this poem. And from whatever I have read/heard, I believe that Derozio was not a participant in the freedom struggle but was definitely in favour of it.

  • http://www.diary.viveksanghi.com/ Vivek

    Hello Manjir. As I understand, Derozio believed that the British rule had ruined the country. He has not expressed any particular opinion regarding the Indian freedom struggle at least in this poem. And from whatever I have read/heard, I believe that Derozio was not a participant in the freedom struggle but was definitely in favour of it.

  • Umesh Prasad Singh

    To – India my native land by by Henry Derozio was our ICSE text in Carmel school in Jharkhand. This poem reflects sombre note of glorified poetic cult and patriotism in true sense. to- preposition in this poem is relational prepositional at the same time. Sir Derozio was also professor in presidency college Calcutta in English literature. The focality of poetic texture in this poem has an amalgamation of poetic justice and velocity of content as well. the effectivity of this poem lies in responsiveness. students in our school – in fact in all ICSE schools cherish this poem upto the university research level.. the centrality of this poem is neo-centric and classic – centric. Catholic sisters of south India trains the students in poeticality through such poems. the compilation was known as panorama. which has now changed as wings of poesy in the ICSE stream.

  • Umesh Prasad Singh

    To – India my native land by by Henry Derozio was our ICSE text in Carmel school in Jharkhand. This poem reflects sombre note of glorified poetic cult and patriotism in true sense. to- preposition in this poem is relational prepositional at the same time. Sir Derozio was also professor in presidency college Calcutta in English literature. The focality of poetic texture in this poem has an amalgamation of poetic justice and velocity of content as well. the effectivity of this poem lies in responsiveness. students in our school – in fact in all ICSE schools cherish this poem upto the university research level.. the centrality of this poem is neo-centric and classic – centric. Catholic sisters of south India trains the students in poeticality through such poems. the compilation was known as panorama. which has now changed as wings of poesy in the ICSE stream.

  • Neela

    Thanks alot…I needed this for my Eng project…Im my book its not guerdon btw…

  • Neela

    Thanks alot…I needed this for my Eng project…Im my book its not guerdon btw…

  • Fiona

    hi….
    thats fiona….
    well…thanx alot……but a bit more analysis on the poem would have helped me better…
    thanx again…

  • Fiona

    hi….
    thats fiona….
    well…thanx alot……but a bit more analysis on the poem would have helped me better…
    thanx again…

  • JAC

    yah.i agree wit fiona…………it would have been better if u could hav given some more stress on d poem………………………

  • Mallika Juneja

    THIS SUCKS. worst, poem, ever

  • Ruchi_12rocks

    hey,
    this is really very helpfull.
    in other words this poem can b explained as the poet laments the lost glory of india which it had lost because of being slave to british rule.

  • Karanmj1234

    u suck bas****

  • Anonymous

    India is one special country nowadays: you can find everything in India, from wild scenery and wild life to super technologized locations in the major cities. You can find poor people that are spiritual and also people that love capitalism as it were their own religion. Isn’t that interesting?

  • uncle Ben

    well done Mate! Keep up your reading of Poetry,

  • Vatwillchat

    Very helpful article………. Helped me in my project a lot. thanx

  • Manju

    its good!!! but a li’ll more explanation on tihis topic wud be daaaamm helpful and it s awsm thanxxx!!!!!!!!!! :)

  • Manjdgre8

    i think u should keep ur critical comments to urself if ur tht smart enough

  • Diyabhushan

    due to people like u owr country gts a bad name

  • Supreethabv

    kudos! its a gud explanation abt the poem. It could help me too in my study of this poem in I.C.S.E.

  • ANAMIKASINHA1995

    THNX…………..

  • ANAMIKASINHA1995

    YEAH….SUCH COMMENTS SHUD B CONFINED TO URSELF…………….

  • matt7777

    this helped me a lot pass my exams…..thanks ton…:)

  • Arnav_martrocks

    hey plz dont abuse him i liked his poem ……..

  • Onalisa

    the net is for u all to study and get different explanations .this poem is such a striking one which will lift us up from darkness and take vows on our motherland.i wonder how students ever abuse when they write a comment.This is the reason for our downfall.

  • Poojasingh

    i really think dat u need 2 get a life.. becuzz u kind of ppl r born 2 create problems n u completely suck……n sthu if u cant respect ur country…v dont need ppl like u here soo buzz off trust me ur really worsth nothin 2 d INDIAN society u can spoil it bt neva b helpful to it

  • Anand_sukhoi

    MY SPECIAL THANKS TO THE PERSON WHO TYPED THIS!! THIS REALLY HELPED ME A LOT THANK U.

  • Trisrota

    gooddddddd……….

  • Guest

    Thank you for helping us out! If only you had given a small lil bigger elaboration of the poem, I think it would just be brilliant! And you haven’t really critically appreciated anything here…just saying! Hope you come up with sth better next time around! :)
    Nice work anyway! Cheers! 

  • http://www.techblog.viveksanghi.com/ Vivek Sanghi

    I never thought that so many ICSE students will take to the net for seeking an explanation of this poem. I actually get a lot of traffic due to this post. I have not made any “Critical appreciation” here. I recommend you guys refer the pageant of poems guide for this purpose. I have only given a brief explanation of this poem here. Note that my understanding and explanation of the poem might differ from what the standard guides say or what your teacher expects :) Thanks for visiting my site.

  • Goodindian

    this is an very good poem
    an the author is a very good man
    though being an Portuguese he wanted to free the country you all shoud respect him and comment it with good remarks

  • Shivani_rs97

    hey it was really helpful to me..to write my answers..thnks alot

  • Sudeb Sarkar

    thankyou

  • Kharpurih

    thnx man…. dis relly helped me alot :) 

  • 29kshitij

    vrrry nice poetry……..

  • Sunshine_forever16

    yes..helped me2..:)

  • priyanshi negi

    hey thanx for d explanation.
    i got exactly wat i was looking for!!!!!!!

  • ujjayoni roy

    it waz all dat i really searched fr…….
    thnx

  • Crazy Rim

    Thanks for the explanation.But I guess it could be a little more elaborate.

  • Crazy Rim

    The spelling of ‘grovelling’ is wrong.Please correct it.

  • http://www.techblog.viveksanghi.com/ Vivek Sanghi

    By todays standards, I guess the spelling may be wrong. But at the time this poetry was written, this was the spelling used by the poet. In addition, the text books I referred to produce this poetry here carry the same spelling as in my write-up.