The Patriot by Nissim Ezekiel

The Patriot by Nissim Ezekiel

I am standing for peace and non-violence.
Why world is fighting fighting
Why all people of world
Are not following Mahatma Gandhi,
I am simply not understanding.
Ancient Indian Wisdom is 100% correct,
I should say even 200% correct,
But modern generation is neglecting –
Too much going for fashion and foreign thing.
Other day I’m reading newspaper
(Every day I’m reading Times of India
To improve my English Language)
How one goonda fellow
Threw stone at Indirabehn.
Must be student unrest fellow, I am thinking.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I am saying (to myself)
Lend me the ears.
Everything is coming –
Regeneration, Remuneration, Contraception.
Be patiently, brothers and sisters.
You want one glass lassi?
Very good for digestion.
With little salt, lovely drink,
Better than wine;
Not that I am ever tasting the wine.
I’m the total teetotaller, completely total,
But I say
Wine is for the drunkards only.
What you think of prospects of world peace?
Pakistan behaving like this,
China behaving like that,
It is making me really sad, I am telling you.
Really, most harassing me.
All men are brothers, no?
In India also
Gujaratis, Maharashtrians, Hindiwallahs
All brothers –
Though some are having funny habits.
Still, you tolerate me,
I tolerate you,
One day Ram Rajya is surely coming.
You are going?
But you will visit again
Any time, any day,
I am not believing in ceremony
Always I am enjoying your company

About Nissim Ezekial

Nissim Ezekiel(1924-2004) is an Indian Jewish poet, playwright, and an art critic. He has been described as the “father of post-independence Indian verse in English”. His other works of poetry include – ‘The Night of the Scorpian’, ‘The Deadly Man’ etc. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi cultural award in the year 1983 and the Padma Shri award, by the president of India, in the year 1988.
To know more about the author, visit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissim_Ezekiel

Summary of ‘The Patriot’ by Nissim Ezekial

The narrator is a patriot and claims that he stands for peace and non-violence. He questions why the world is fighting and why we aren’t following Mahatma Gandhi and his wisdom. The narrator reads the ‘Times of India’ to improve his English, in it, he read about a student who threw a stone at Indhira Gandhi. Modern people have adapted to foreign habits, such as drinking wine over the Indian drink-lassi and claims that wine is only for drunkards. The world cannot be at peace when the bordering countries of India like Pakisthan and China want a war. Indians are brothers and sisters, and Gujaratis, Maharashtrians, Hindiwallahs are one. By this time, the opponent person seems to have lost interest, so the narrator says he’ll be ready for the other’s company anytime.

Analysis of ‘The Patriot’ by Nissim Ezekiel

This poem was written in 1977. The poem ‘The patriot’ is an ironical poem that criticizes the Indians of adapting foreign habits. The narrator of the poem is a patriot. Patriotism is a much bigger concept, yet Nissim prefers to define it with simple and ridiculous acts we all have adapted from foreign cultures. It is narrated in the first-person point of view in the present continuous tense.

The poem outlines different trends that Indians adapt from foreigners defeating Indian culture and tradition. The narrator criticizes them though he himself is a hypocrite.

I am standing for peace and non-violence.
Why world is fighting fighting
Why all people of world
Are not following Mahatma Gandhi,
I am simply not understanding.

I (narrator) and non-violence yet the world is fighting. I am confused about why India does not follow the ideal leader-Mahatma Gandhi. There is a repetition of the word ‘fighting’ to emphasize meaning.

Ancient Indian Wisdom is 100% correct,
I should say even 200% correct,
But modern generation is neglecting –
Too much going for fashion and foreign thing.

The wisdom of our passionate leaders is true, not just 100% but 200% correct. There is clearly no such thing as 200%, it is an emphasis on how true the wisdom is for the narrator. However, modern people ignore it and are busy with indulging in fashion and foreign habits/trends.

Other day I’m reading newspaper
(Every day I’m reading Times of India
To improve my English Language)
How one goonda fellow
Threw stone at Indirabehn.

The narrator was reading ‘The Times of India’ an English newspaper to improve his English. In it, he reads that a fellow threw a stone at Indhira Gandhi. The reader comments about how we are indulging in habits of foreign culture, yet he reads an English newspaper to learn a foreign language. The contents of the newspaper also reveal disrespect for an Indian leader, which is a metaphor for patriotism.

Must be student unrest fellow, I am thinking.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I am saying (to myself)
Lend me the ears.
Everything is coming –
Regeneration, Remuneration, Contraception.

The fellows that threw stones at Indhira Gandhi must be students. “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I am saying (to myself), Lend me the ears” are the lines of Shakespeare, again referring to foreign language. It can be considered as a mockery or appreciation of the language. “Regeneration, Remuneration, Contraception”, refers to the ’20 point program’ for regeneration and the forced sterilization of people to control the population.

Be patiently, brothers and sisters.
You want one glass lassi?
Very good for digestion.
With little salt, lovely drink,
Better than wine;
Not that I am ever tasting the wine.
I’m the total teetotaller, completely total,
But I say
Wine is for the drunkards only.

He asks the Indians to be patient. He makes a comparison between ‘Lassi’ and ‘Wine’. Lassi is an Indian drink that helps indigestion. Wine is meant for drunkards only and the poet does not consume it.

What you think of prospects of world peace?
Pakistan behaving like this,
China behaving like that,
It is making me really sad, I am telling you.
Really, most harassing me.

The narrator questions what the readers think about the world becoming peaceful. He points out that India cannot be at peace when the bordering countries-Pakistan and China are always provoking a war. The narrator is very much disturbed by it.

All men are brothers, no?
In India also
Gujaratis, Maharashtrians, Hindiwallahs
All brothers –
Though some are having funny habits.
Still, you tolerate me,
I tolerate you,
One day Ram Rajya is surely coming.

He again questions is all of us are brothers and sisters. Even though the Gujaratis, Maharashtrians, Hindiwallahs have adapted to foreign trends and habits we are all one. We tolerate each other. The Kingdom of Ram surely will come one day.

You are going?
But you will visit again
Any time, any day,
I am not believing in ceremony
Always I am enjoying your company

Now, the opponent hearing all this seems to be uninterested. The narrator says that he will visit one day and that he enjoys the company. The line, “I am not believing in ceremony” contrasts to “One day Ram Rajya is surely coming”. The narrator believes that the Kingdom of Ram will come one day when he says he doesn’t believe in ceremony.

The poem contains simple language(colloquial) and diction. The language used is Indianized and relates to English-speaking Indians. This poem has touches of the post-independence era and how Indians picked up habits of foreigners even after independence.

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Mercy Hapsiba

Freelance Writer~Blogger~Learner

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Aarsha
Aarsha
1 month ago

This poem by Nissim Ezekial is a best poem that upholds the feelings of an Indian. As a citizen we must have to follow certain aspects that enhance the culture, tradition and glory of it. You have given a good analysis of this poem and it seems to be very helpful!