When Did Thee And Thou Fall Out Of Fashion Free Notes – ‘To the Indian Who Died in Africa’ by TS Eliot

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Free Notes – ‘To the Indian Who Died in Africa’ by TS Eliot

The 20th century saw few poets greater than TS Eliot who exerted more influence on the formation of the modern style of poetry writing for more than forty years. Not only was his style distinct but he also used conversational speech loaded with complex poetic images with layers of diverse thoughts to portray various aspects of life. The poet loved allusions and used them very effectively to convey a wealth of meaning through just a few lines. This individuality of Eliot is perhaps best expressed in his magnum opus -‘The Waste Land.’ The canon of Karma and detachment as propagated in Hindu philosophy was unknown to Eliot and the present poem emphasizes these principles.

Themes That man should follow his actions with a spirit of detachment is the main theme of this somber poem. Exactly such a theme has been enunciated in the Bhagavad-Gita by which the poet seems to be substantially inspired. The Bhagavad-Gita advises to renounce desires for worldly possessions such as wealth, fame, family, property and the like. That is why the poet says that every country is a home for one man and an exile for another. If a man is serving his duty conscientiously in another country, regardless of the country of his birth it becomes his homeland. Therefore, ‘foreign’ or ‘indigenous’ land is only a relative term in the sense that one must remain detached from one’s homeland when one must respond to the call of duty. The Indian soldier and his comrades in arms including his British allies in the poem are good examples of such persons doing their duty in the foreign land, Africa. Some of them are not destined to reach their own country but die in another man’s land. Despite this, the land on which they sacrifice their lives for a great and common cause, becomes their home while the land that was their home is no longer the same. Their great action would bring its reward although they did not know about it ‘until the judgment is made after death.’

Another prominent theme of the poem is the doctrine of Karma. Through the selfless action of the Indian soldier and those who love him in Africa, the philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita is shown that – “Only for an action you have a right and never for its fruits; do not let the fruits of actions be the -your motive. ; nor let there be in you any connection with the lack of action”. TS Eliot says in the last line of the third stanza that wherever he dies with his heart that soil is his. It happens to the poet that the soldiers of different countries fighting for a common cause may not know the result of their efforts. However, this possibility does not diminish the value of their sacrifice. They become immortal as they are glorified in memory of their people through their sublime act.The judgment after death shows the poet’s preoccupation with the Christian doctrine of ‘last judgment’ as mentioned in the Old Testament.

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