The Poems of Nissim Ezekiel

Nissim Ezekiel as a Poet College

Nissim Ezekiel is generally known as a poet who has written in only language, and his example is often cited in contrast to the careers of other Indian poets who are often bilingually accomplished (for instance, Arun Kolatkar, Kamla Markandaya, Dilip Chitre and Kamla Das). In Ezekiel's case, English functions as his mother tongue, the only language he can use for creative expression. Ezekiel is an intensely personal poet; his writing is inextricably interwoven with his life and that poetry is guided by a search for commitment. A characteristic feature of Ezekiel’s poetry, one becoming increasingly dominant with the progress of his work as a poet and critic, is the search for detachment or non-involvement, hence the preponderance of irony in his writing.

These observations may be applied to Ezekiel’s Background Casually, which is rich in ambiguities and is divided into three sections. Its three sections describe his progress from childhood through youth to maturity, exploring the essence of one’s true vocation as a poet. Notably, the ‘I’ of the poem speaks in the direct lyrical mode without the use of ironic mask. The poem could be read as a poem in the autobiographical confessional mode; indeed, it might be assigned to the...

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