ASIAN 224: 'Traditions of Poetry in India'

            Essay #3.

            Like the second assignment this one involves the application of a traditional theoretical concept to poems that you select. The concept is dhvani or vyanjanaa 'indirect suggestion': If a poet designs a work that does not reveal all of its meaning at once, in which second and even third meanings are implicit, and from which they emerge through hints and clues embedded in the primary or surface meaning, then we can say that an "anudhvanita" or suggested meaning inheres in it. What is suggested can be a rasa or something more concrete, such as an implied message.

            Choose two poems, one from the Tamil Sangam (Coursepack pp. 30-35) or from the "Classical" Sanskrit traditions and the other one from English (or any other non-Indian tradition). The two poems should (1.) not be too lengthy and (2.) each of them should in your view have a complex structure of meaning amenable to analysis. Copy them out. For each identify what is being suggested. For each of the them analyze the techniques with which the poet leads the reader to a second, deeper interpretation of the poem. These techniques may include such things as choice of vocabulary, what is mentioned and what is not mentioned, choice of vehicle (the entity to which something is compared) in the poem's similes or metaphors, and other tropes (figures of speech). As always please be specific and concrete: for instance, 'Phrase X or choice Y helps the reader infer Z because it expresses, suggests, alludes to, reminds the alert reader of W which has the following universal or conventional association with Z.'

            Since I am asking you to give a close reading of two poems, rather than one, you should try to select poems that are not overly long ones. The Tamil ones that are available to us are nearly all of them short anyway. On the English side, however, you may have to take more time to find a good poem short enough to analyze in a page or two. If you prefer you may choose to analyze a single stanza from a longer work. But if you do that please type out and append the entire poem.

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Last updated: 15 August 2003