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A Different History Essay

The only thing worse than watching your own culture disappear is to see your own grandchildren not knowing a single thing about their native culture. The speaker of the poem A Different History, by an Indian Poet named Sujata Bhatt, expresses her feelings towards the change of her culture after the British Colonization. In this poem, the speaker explains in a disappointed tone how the culture and language changed as the generations passed on. Using strong diction and repetitions in each stanza, she describes how the culture is changing and how the people are affected too.

1 At the very first stanza, Bhatt used poetic devices such as allusions and imagery to capture the scene of the first generation of India where the British Colonization hasn’t occurred. The feeling of freedom and peace can be captured in this stanza:

Here the gods roam freely, disguised as snakes or monkeys; every tree is sacred

At the first three lines, Bhatt explains how India is beautiful by using an allusion of the Greek God named Pan, the God of nature. She uses the allusion of God of Pan because she’s telling us that the current culture and the past culture are still linked together. And by that she means even the Indians doesn’t belief in the western gods (Pan), but she uses the allusion of Pan to state that India is beautiful because Pan is the God of nature. And also, she stated that India is a very peaceful and holy environment and even the trees are holy too, by using imagery of gods wandering around in the jungle and trees being “sacred”.

2 Also, during the first generation, Bhatt uses the repetition of the sentence “a sin” as her choice of words to emphasize how important that particular word is and how it affects the culture. She said that it is a sin because as the generation grows, more and more people would not appreciate books because technologies are part of our daily lives now. Not only that, she advises the reader ‘you’ to be gentle to a book, without disturbing Sarasvati, a Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts and science (allusion), and not ‘offending’ the tree, for it is sacred, because you make papers for the books from it:

You must learn how to turn the pages gently

3 And then now, on the second stanza, the changes of culture slowly happen during the second generation (the children of the first generation). Bhatt mentioned ‘oppressor’s tongue’ which clearly shows that India already has people in control of them (the British Colonization has happen). She also uses the word ‘murder’ which is a very strong diction to say that people had killed during that time:

…has not been the oppressor’s tongue? …truly meant to murder someone?

4 While going into the third generation (grandchildren of the first generation), Bhatt expressed in a curious tone that why would the people in the third generation will like the language of the winners’, which she stated as a strange language. She uses the word “conquerors” to show that the British men had won over their country. And also, we can picture that many had died in cruel ways during the British Colonization including their ancestors by her using strong in this last stanza such as “torture” and “soul had been cropped out”. This stanza showed that the culture had been changed and soon the later generations will forget about their original culture:

the unborn grandchildren grow to love that strange language.


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