“Inklings From the Dark” is a metaphysical poem. It unveils the plight of modern society caused by moral corruption, exploitation and uneven distribution of power. It also endeavours to bring hope in times of terror, turbulence and violence.
Introduction: “Inklings from the Dark” is a metaphysical poem. It unveils the plight of modern society caused by moral corruption, exploitation and uneven distribution of power. It also endeavours to bring hope in times of terror, turbulence and violence.
Summary and explanations
The poet narrates the events of his previous night when it was snowing and he could not sleep because he was hallucinating. He saw an eagle spilling the blood of a dove whose feathers were scattered over maintains. Turning in his bed he saw a deep chasm. He sat up in the bed and heard frightful whisperings from outside. Terrorized and traumatized, he pulled up the quilt for warmth but the kangri tipped and the cold ashes fell on his feet. Outside, the owl started its ominous hooting.
Suddenly the poet remembered his son who had fallen asleep while listening to the tale of the oyster‘s toil in making a pearl. He got up from the bed and went to see his son. The boy was sleeping peacefully with a smile on his lips and a drop of sweat on his forehead. The poet surmised that his son was dreaming of the rest of the tale when the oyster finally bears a pearl.
1. the thread of my fancies slit: This refers to the loss of sleep for the poet.
2. with the cool of the winter in the marrow of my breast: This shows that the poet felt very cold because it was a chilly night it was snowing.
3. Fain would I have raised a cry of lament: The poet is unable to make a sound because his hallucinations have overwhelmed him.
4. I rose like a moonstruck man: The poet is frenzied by his thoughts and rises to see his son.
The poem’s themes include despair, hope, and humanity. The narrator represents the present stage of humanity. In his opinion, moral and spiritual degradation have unleashed on mankind paranoia, dread and visions of a bleak future. The powerful are mercilessly killing and stripping the powerless. The narrator‘s hallucinations give expression to the terror and barrenness humanity is faced with. The eagle killing the dove, the deep and dark chasm, and the cat hanging on the wall bring out the terror unfolding within his mind. The whisperings from outside, the creepy cat on the hanger, no comfort from the quilt, the kangri increasing the cold rather than providing warmth, and the owl‘s hooting reveal the terror, hopelessness and dread in the atmosphere. The overall picture is of helplessness and disorder. Humanity is completely shrouded in despair at almost a point of no return and no possible refuge. The son, however, represents the omen of hope, innocence, youth and vigour. The poet sees hope in the new generation provided that they learn from their elders (the first ‘part of the tale‘) and work hard with honesty, compassion and justice for a bright future and redemption of the human race. Another theme of the poem is the nature of the parent-child relationship. The parent never wants his/her child to be engulfed by the vices and moral corruption of his/her times and always envisions a bright future for him.
The imagery in the poem is violent as well as serene and optimistic. In the first two stanzas the images reinforce the theme of violence and create an atmosphere of bleakness and terror e.g. the blood of the dove smouldering of the eagle‘s beak, the dove’s feathers shed over hilltops, the snowflakes sailing into the crevices, the kangri, the ashes (visual); the whisperings and the hooting of the owl (auditory). The images in the third stanza are reassuring, optimistic, productive and peaceful e.g. oyster, a mushroom on the mount, “a drop of sweat, dawned afresh, playing on his brow”, the oyster had laboured forth a pearl‘ (visual); fragrant blossoms (olfactory).
Metaphor: Thread of my fancies, wild shadows of my mind, hapless ashes.
Simile: like a moonstruck man.
Personification: ashes kissed my feet, drop of a sweat playing on his brow.
Symbolism and contrast
The poem abounds in symbols and many of them have been used in contrast. The eagle symbolises ruthless ower, predation nd violence while the dove symbolizes innocence and peace. The dove‘s blood and scattered feathers symbolize tyranny and oppression prevalent in the modern world. The cat symbolizes preying while the rat symbolizes meekness. The owl is a symbol of doom and winter symbolizes barrenness while the oyster stands for spiritual perfection and purity, the pearl stands for regeneration and redemption, and the mushroom for germination and fresh life. The contrast between man and child is also evident in the poem. While the grown-up man is helpless and traumatized by his evil practices, the child is pure, potent and capable of transforming humanity‘s despair into hope. While dry frozen lips characterize man, a drop of sweat, fresh and playing on his brow augur the child.
Point of view
The poem has a first-person narrator who narrates the story as a concerned father and human.
The tone is bleak and hopeless in the beginning but changes to that of hope towards the end.
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