Toru Dutt: Poetry

Toru Dutt: Poetry Summary and Analysis of "Baugmaree"


The poem "Baugmaree" is from Dutt's Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan (1882). It describes the various colors and plants that Dutt's speaker observes in her garden home, ranging from tamarinds to mangoes, to palms and seemuls, to bamboo and lotus plants. After listing the wide variety of plants in the garden that surrounds the home, Dutt's speaker mentions the intoxicating quality of the plants' beauty and suggests that the garden represents a type of "primeval Eden." This allusion to the Bible not only underscores the religious and spiritual significant that Dutt invests in nature, but also the importance of Christianity and Christian imagery to Dutt.


In terms of its form, the poem is a formal Petrarchan sonnet, consisting of fourteen lines with an ABBAABBACDCDEE rhyme scheme. The enclosed rhyme structure of the poem indicates that each four-line section of the first eight lines (the octave) is devoted to developing a different theme, claim, or idea.

The first four lines, for example, reject our possible assumption that the garden is dominated by only one color: "A sea of foliage girds our garden round, / But not a sea of dull unvaried green, / Sharp contrasts of all colours here are seen; / The light-green graceful tamarinds abound."

The next stanza then elaborates on this idea of diversity and, starting with the tamarind plants, goes on to describe the other plant life that is present in the garden.

After the octave, which merely lists different kinds of beautiful plants that are present in the speaker's garden, a turn (or volta) occurs where the speaker then directs our attention to the prettiest of the garden's plants, the "bamboos to the eastward."

The speaker then comments on how the "white lotus changes / Into a cup of silver," a transformation that seems magic or fantastical to the speaker: "One might swoon / Drunken with beauty then, or gaze and gaze / On a primeval Eden, in amaze."

The poem is a simple lyric poem, one which seeks merely to describe the pleasure and beauty that the speaker finds in her garden home. It is organized in a way that effectively conveys the momentum and importance of various images through the sonnet form, and it uses more simple, vernacular English than the poems of Dutt's translations. Here, in "Baugmaree," we are thus not just brought into the private space of Dutt's garden home, but also into the private space of her internal reflections and meditations, one fascinated by nature where she seeks to use poetry to give voice to the world's natural beauty.