Analysis of the Earthen Goblet by Harindranath Chattopadyay



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Chattopadhyay’s poetry usually deals with nature and natural way of life. The poem is written as a dialogue between the poet and the goblet. He wants to know how the goblet felt when it was taken from the earth and shaped into a goblet. The answer of the goblet which forms the next three stanzas of the poem is tinged with a sense of sadness and helplessness. 


O silent goblet! Red from head to heel,
How did you feel
When you were being twirled
Upon the potter's wheel
Before the potter gave you to the world!


O silent goblet! – personification
red – imagery
Rhyme – AABAB

The poet questions the goblet about the feelings it had when it was being shaped into the present form on the potter’s wheel. The imperfect rhyming scheme may suggest that poet knows that he is asking an absurd question. Whether the feeling is happy or sad, it does not matter; the goblet cannot change its shape ever!


       'I felt a conscious impulse in my clay
        To break away
        From the great potter's hand
        That burned so warm,
        I felt a vast
        Feeling of sorrow to be cast
        Into my present form.


Rhyme – AABCDDC

Goblet’s answer clearly states that it came to the present form without its consent. Although it got the alert, it could not resist as the force was so powerful. The words: ‘great’, ‘burned so warm’ suggest that. When it was being changed, it felt ‘a vast feeling of sorrow’. That may be the understanding about its passiveness about the inevitable change of its form. The disturbed rhyming scheme suggests its mental status about its predicament.


'Before that fatal hour
That saw me captive on the potter's wheel
And cast into his crimson goblet sleep,
I used to feel
The fragrant friendship of a little flower
Whose root was in my bosom buried deep.'


Rhyme – ABCBAC

The goblet recalls the hour that it was captivated and slaughtered as well as the nostalgic feeling of its lost friendship which was so close to its heart. The words: ‘fatal hour’, ‘captive’, ‘cast into … sleep’ illustrate a picture of a hunter getting ready to kill an animal captivated by him. The phrases: ‘the fragrant friendship’, ‘root was in my bosom buried deep’ show the affectionate attachment it had with its previous life and its surroundings. The rhyme scheme suggests its disturbed emotions about its lost relationships.  



        'The potter has drawn out the living breath of me
        And given me a form which is death of me,
        My past unshapely natural stage was best
        With just one flower flaming through my breast.'


Rhyme- AABB

The rhyming couplet gives the answer of the goblet to the poet’s question about its feelings. Although it had been given a form, it prefers the unshapely form it had in the previous life. It further complains that the potter had killed it to get the present form so it has no life in it now. It repents of its past, though it did not have much and craves for that simple natural life. 

This poem also gives the implication as to how a person from a rural area, much attached to rural life is made to undergo change in modern society, with no choice. This person was brought to the city and was made to adapt to modern life, despite his disinterest. At the end, he turned out be a gentleman in the city, but his attachment was for the humble, down-to-earth life style close to nature, with his girl in the village.

This poem draws parallels to the most people in the city who transferred from villages looking for a better life. They repent over their past but they cannot go back to their previous life as they are helplessly bound to their city life. What is your idea? Comment it below in the comment section.  

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