By Subramania Bharti
(Translated from the Tamil by A.K. Ramanujan)
About the Poet
Chinnaswami Subramania Bharati, also known as Bharathiyar was a Tamil writer, poet, journalist, Indian independence activist and a social reformer from Tamil Nadu. Popularly known as “Mahakavi Bharati”, he was a pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and is considered one of the greatest Tamil literary figures of all time. Wikipedia
Born: 11 December 1882, Ettayapuram
Died: 11 September 1921, Chennai
Image Reference: en.wikipedia.og
Text Reference: wikipedia
Attipate Krishnaswami Ramanujan also known as A. K. Ramanujan was an Indian poet and scholar of Indian literature who wrote in both English and Kannada. Ramanujan was a poet, scholar, a philologist, folklorist, translator, and playwright.
Born: 16 March 1929, Mysore
Died: 13 July 1993, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Image Reference: projectindianpoetry.wordpress.com
Text Reference: wikipedia
The wind blows strongly and causes a lot of destruction.
How can we make friends with it?
Wind, come softly.
Don’t break the shutters of the windows.
Don’t scatter the papers.
Don’t throw down the books on the shelf.
There, look what you did — you threw them all down.
You tore the pages of the books.
You brought rain again.
You’re very clever at poking fun at weaklings.
Frail crumbling houses, crumbling doors, crumbling rafters,
crumbling wood, crumbling bodies, crumbling lives,
crumbling hearts —
the wind god winnows and crushes them all.
He won’t do what you tell him.
So, come, let’s build strong homes,
Let’s joint the doors firmly.
Practise to firm the body.
Make the heart steadfast.
Do this, and the wind will be friends with us.
The wind blows out weak fires.
He makes strong fires roar and flourish.
His friendship is good.
We praise him every day.
The poet describes the raw force of the wind in this poem. When the wind blows it breaks the shutters of the windows. It throws down the books on the shelf. It tears the pages of the books. It makes fun of weak and crumbling houses, doors, wood, bodies and hearts. It not only makes fun of these things but also crushes them all. The wind god winnows them and crushes them. He says that the wind will not do any harm to the strong homes, doors or the bodies. If we are strong, no one can harm us in any way.
Short and Long Answer Type Questions
Q. What are the things the wind does in the first stanza?
Ans. The wind breaks the shutters of the windows, scatters the papers, throws down the books from the shelf, tears the pages of the books and brings rain.
Q. What is the word in your language for winnowing?
Ans. Pachhorana is the word in my language for winnowing. People use chaaj or winnowing fan for winnowing purpose.
Q. What does the poet say the wind god winnows?
Ans. The poet says that the wind god winnows the weak crumbling houses, doors, rafters, wood, bodies, lives and hearts, and then crushes them all.
Q. What should we do to make friends with the wind?
Ans. we should build strong houses with firm doors. We should also make ourselves physically and mentally strong by building strong bodies and having steadfast hearts.
Q. What do the last four lines of the poem mean to you?
Ans. In the last four lines, the poet inspires us to face the wind, which symbolises the hardships of our lives, courageously. He tells us that the wind can only extinguish the weak fires; it intensifies the stronger ones. Similarly, adversities deter the weak-hearted but make stronger those who have unfaltering will. In such a case, befriending the wind or the hardships of life makes it easier for us to face them.
Q. How does the poet speak to the wind — in anger or with humour? You must also have seen or heard of the wind “crumbling lives”. What is your response to this? Is it like the poet’s?
Ans. The poet speaks to the wind with anger.
Yes, strong winds are known to cause plenty of damage and destruction to both life and property. Storms, cyclones, gales and strong winds cause havoc on land. They uproot trees, bring down houses, tear down electric posts and claim lives. They also cause damage to boats and frighten the poor sailors and fishermen out at sea.
Yet, I do not agree with the poet that the wind only ‘crumbles lives’. The wind is responsible for bringing rain; it cools the land and makes the climate pleasant. Today, wind energy is harnessed for several useful purposes including turning windmills, wind turbines and generating electricity.