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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Poem Analysis,Subject Summarisation And Explanation : 'Brotherhood : Homage To Claudius Ptolemy' By Octavio Paz

The fourth poem in the Class XI WBCHSE English B syllabus is 'Brotherhood' composed by the legendary,noble prize winning Mexican poet Octavio Paz.The poem has been written on a search for the realisation that no matter how little every human being in this huge universe is,every little being still has a very special and unique place in the scheme of the universe.
Paz himself drew from Marxism,Surrealism( Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for its visual artworks and writings. The aim was to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality.")
and Extentialism (Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice. It is the view that humans define their own meaning in life, and try to make rational decisions despite existing in an irrational universe.).
The juxtaposition of concepts as diverse as the three make his works remarkably unique and effective in the reader's eye.

Brotherhood : Homage To Claudius Ptolemy 
(Credit : Source)

I am a man: little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.

(Original Photograph from Photograph Source)

Poem Analysis,Summarisation And Explanation

The poem has been written in free verse and as such,this is a part of modern poetry rather than the last three poems we have covered from the syllabus,all of which were more or less inspired from romanticism and associated values.
This poem,as can be readily understood,is based mostly on extentialism.It has been written as homage to Claudius Ptolemy,who was a Greco-Egyptian writer of Alexandria, known as a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology who lived in Rome around 100 AD.This is perhaps because of Ptolemy's contribution in making us understand the concept of the universe based on which Paz composed this poem.

The first four lines of the poem neatly offsets in the last four lines. The opening line describes how an individual pales into insignificance as a mere being in this vast universe.
When this mere being looks up at the sky,he is able to read the inspiration and knowledge that stars are able to write.

Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888, oil on canvas by Van Gogh

And almost unknowingly,he realises that the purpose of his life too,has been written in the sky.This act of writing is not casual,it is deliberate in nature.And now that he realises this,he is able to create a definiteness that assures him of his own identity,assures him of visibility within the mighty vastness.

Special Credit : 'Mindscapes : Higher Secondary English Selections' Printed by Orient Blackswan on behalf of West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education (WBCHSE).

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  1. It was great... Should be published at the end of the book replacing the current one.

    1. Glad that you think so! Thank You!

    2. I cant understand through this blog how the title "Brotherhood" is signified?

  2. Thank you for the help..It helped me a lot..

  3. Wasn't Ptolemy the one who offered to explain the movements of astral bodies through his theory of the eight celestial spheres with the earth at the centre? The Christian church endorsed this geocentric--and implicitly anthropocentric-- view of the universe for obvious reasons. Interestingly, Brotherhood also presents a universe where Man has a special significance- not as the nucleus of the Universe, but as a being whose consciousness resonates with the distant stars across abysses of darkness. He is intensely aware of the finiteness of his existence, and yet can feel the bonds of brotherhood with the infinite.


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