Monday, 3 September 2012

The Golden Gate – Poem by: Vikram Seth – An Analysis of 7.8 and 7.9

The poem from its structure is a epic set in narrative with a sonnet from broken into chapter-wise parts. Poem 7.8 deals with atomic bombs and individuals that sit behind the controls who aren’t exactly human for they are more like zombies.

“Bright crew-cut zombies will efface
All humankind. Too late to posit
What made them fire from the hip.
A flight of geese? A faulty chip?”

Seth deals with the lack of humanity prevalent in the minds of these people that hold the controls to life and death where human beings are held to be mere statistical figures. It is rather easy to put the blame of an accidental killing of millions on a faulty chip that went of accidentally. Technology is seen as a medium to hide behind and avoid blame while at the same time be inhumane. Thus, technical words like “optimizing Effective yield” are used in place of “death” to de-sensitize individuals. This is a blatant mis-use of technology but it doesn’t matter as being in the lead of the race of arms is what is of prime importance.

Dropping a bomb is taken to be an effective measure to solve political differences. As Cranberries in their song ‘Zombie’ point out, the main concern is that the people being targeted ‘is not me, is not my family’ and since they are strangers what does it matter if they live or die?
In poem 7.9 we are presented with a campaign against the use of such weapons where people are urging a new perspective “I am my brother’s keeper” inversing the biblical words of Cain the first murderer who kills his brother and says “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In a way, it shows that though there may be zombies behind the controls there still are flesh and blood people on the outside who care for others and atleast think about their well-being too. Vikram Seth thus, does justice to the grayscales in human nature.

“Nice folks don’t use nukes,” “Work for life,
Not death,” and a huge “Strive with strife” –

Seth through his poems ask people to consider the fact that though technology may be heartless and souless, the men and women sitting behind the controls have a conscience and should exercise it instead of merely following blind orders. The placard of “Strive with strife” calls to mind Longfellow’s poem, ‘Psalm of Life’ where he says: Be not like dumb driven cattle/ Be the hero in the strife.

His two poems juxtapose a complete absence of concern with sensitivity and concern for the well being of humanity in general. Here, we see man as holding an almost godlike power of destruction thanks to technology but one must remember that though man can destroy man he has not the power of resurrection or even of creating another human being.
Though modern man has the power to create bombs and robots, he cannot desensitize himself and choose to weld the power of life and death without thinking of the deeper consequences.

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