This article will cover the summary of the poem The Visitor by Nissim Ezekiel and also the analysis of The Visitor. If you are an English Literature student and are preparing for, an academic exam, UGC NET, or any other similar competitive exam, this article is a must-read for you. So, let us go ahead and check out the summary and analysis of the poem The Visitor.
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The Visitor Poem Summary And Analysis – Nissim Ezekiel
The Visitor by Nissim Ezekiel, published in The Exact Name is a short, simple, lyric that demonstrates once again how Ezekiel is conscious of the Ordinariness of most events / stereotypical and biased approaches present in society and yet how he can transform and transmute them, make poetry out of them, and bring out their essential significance.
The lyric also brings out the poet’s gift of verbal portraiture, how with a few deft touches he can bring a character to life.
The lyric opens with a reference to a common Indian superstition that the cawing of the crow foretells the arrival of some guests. The crow cawed not only once but three times.
It sat on the window, fixed its hateful eyes on the poet, and raised its wings slightly as if something sinister was about to befall. Its body was tense and it stretched out its neck and looked like a nagging woman. The use of this simile at once links up man with the lower creatures thus reminding us that we are all equal members of God’s teeming family, man as much as the crow.
The minute and accurate account of the pose of the crow also testifies to the fact that Ezekiel was a great lover of the feathery creatures and painstakingly studied their ways and habits.
However, here the poet feels that there was something sinister in the way in which the crow looked fixedly at him, and thus a hint is thrown out that the crow is usually regarded as a bird of ill-omen.
But, as it crows three times the room is filled or resounds with its voice, and its presence is felt in the room, as would be that of a nagging woman.
The cawing of the crow, thrice repeated, fills the poet with expectation. He imagines that something uncommon is going to happen, that he would have some extraordinary visitor. He begins to daydream of all sorts of possibilities.
The lines like “sleep-walking on air of thought” have exposed Ezekiel to the charge of using abstract wooly language in the Indian Philosophical tradition of which he has been a keen student.
He moved into the bright and beautiful world, the creation of his own fancy, with his dirty clay body (muddy clothes). But he was soon again in the real world, his heart full of sympathy for the crow and all other creatures of God.
He prepared to face the visitor. The use of the word “The visitor” here is ambiguous, for the crow is as much a visitor as the one whose arrival is predicted by cawing. The poet is deeply concerned for he wants to come to terms with it (the crow as the visitor) and establish friendly relations with it.
He waited all day for the expected visitor, for according to popular belief, the visitor must come for the crow had cawed, not once but thrice. The poet thought that he would come to him in some unexpected shape that he would either be an angel in human guise, or some devil, who will tempt him as satin tempted Eve. Thus, his character would be tested.
It will be seen if he remains firm and true to the path he has chosen or is tempted by the evil visitor to stray out of it.
But when the visitor came he was neither an angel nor someone evil and wicked out to tempt him and poison his peace of mind.
He was quite an ordinary person. This ordinariness is indicated by the fact that his hands were empty and he came to the poet merely to kill time.
Such ordinary events and situations make up the sum of human life. He didn’t intend any harm, his intentions were good and friendly.
The poet was sympathetic to him, and they talked and smoked. Their talk was thin, unsubstantial, and meaningless, as is usual on such occasions. It was just killing time in meaningless gossip. Indeed, says the poet humorously, their talk was even more unsubstantial, than the cigarette smoke coming out of their noses.
However, the incident made the poet conscious of his mistake. He should have been aware of the ordinariness of most events, which make up human life. He should have foreseen the visit would be an ordinary commonplace event. Miracles take place only in the imaginary world, not in the real one.
We may imagine such wonderful events, “Figures in the carpet blazing”, but life is made up of the passing of the season, of common human instincts and impulses, such as the sexual urge, and of such ordinary events as the visit which forms the subject of this admirable lyric.
Thus the lyric illustrates that the ordinariness of most events is the theme of Ezekiel’s poetry though its illustrations are countless and most varied.
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