The First Meeting, Sujata Bhatt, Summary, Analysis & Themes

"The First Meeting" is a captivating exploration of the poet's evolving relationship with a snake, symbolizing the intricate connection between humanity and nature. Through vivid imagery and the progression of the poet's emotions, the poem delves into themes of fear, kinship, and the interconnectedness of human existence with the natural world. The poem conveys a profound message about the inevitability of embracing all aspects of nature, including its elements that may initially evoke fear or discomfort.

"The First Meeting Poem"

When I run past the uncounted trees,
groves of mango, eucalyptus—
how the grass slips beneath my feet,
how the wind circles up my legs,
    (invisible snake I can’t escape)
how the kingfisher-blue sky grows
sunnier each second as I run
    up the hill almost blinded,
          run down the other side, my tongue dry,
to the lake where the sky is trapped, tamed blue.
But closer, it is clear water. As I drink
green snakes swim up to the surface.
I recoil amazed, run back faster, faster.

When I get home
he’s there: King Cobra
tightly curled up in a corner.
He looks tired.
    “Come inside, close the door,
    don’t run away,” he seems to smile.
    “I live in your garden,
    I chose it because of the huge purple-golden dahlias.
    I’ve never seen such tall stalks,
    such plump flowers, and the mice!”
    “What do you want?” I ask afraid
    his sunken hood will expand.
    “Oh, you needn’t worry, you needn’t worship me
    as all the rest do. Please don’t change.
    Everywhere I go people pester me
    with their prayers,
    their hundred bowls of milk a day.
    There’s only so much milk I can drink.
    I won’t be caught
    and have my teeth pulled out.
    I won’t be stuffed in a basket
    and commanded to rise, wave after wave,
    to ripple around the straw rim.
    As if their baskets could contain me.
    as if their bulging pipes could move me.
            Oh I am so tired…” he sighs.
    “What do you want?” I ask.
    “I want to live in your garden,
    to visit you, especially those nights you sing,
    let me join you.
    And once in a while, let me lie around your neck
    and share a bowl of milk…”

Summary

"The First Meeting" narrates the poet's initial fear and subsequent understanding and kinship with a King Cobra, depicting the gradual realization of the interconnectedness of humanity with nature. The poem highlights the inevitability of embracing all elements of nature, including those that evoke fear or discomfort, emphasizing the complexities of human existence within the natural world.

Critical Analysis

The poem masterfully portrays the poet's sensory experiences in nature, capturing the initial exuberance and the eventual realization of the snake's presence, which elicits fear and curiosity. The gradual shift in the poet's perception symbolizes the evolving connection between humanity and the natural environment.

The intimate dialogue between the poet and the King Cobra highlights the complexities of human-nature interactions, emphasizing the snake's grievances and weariness, which evoke the need for mutual respect and understanding in our relationship with the natural world.

The poem's thematic exploration of the inevitable presence of nature within human existence underscores the poet's message about the interconnectedness of all living beings and the necessity of acknowledging and embracing all aspects of the natural world.

Themes

  • Interconnectedness of Humanity and Nature: The poem explores the profound connection between human existence and the natural world, emphasizing the necessity of acknowledging and embracing all elements of nature, even those that initially evoke fear or discomfort.
  • Fear and Understanding: The poet's gradual shift from fear to understanding symbolizes the complex interplay between human emotions and the natural environment, highlighting the need for mutual respect and understanding in our relationship with nature.
  • Symbology of the Snake: The snake can be interpreted as a symbol of various aspects of nature, including our fears, desires, and our inherent connection to the natural world, emphasizing the inevitability of embracing all elements of our environment.

Attitudes/Feelings

  • Initial Fear and Curiosity: The poet's initial fear upon encountering the snake reflects the common human reaction to unfamiliar elements of nature, while the subsequent curiosity represents the gradual understanding and acceptance of the natural world.
  • Empathy and Kinship: The poet's growing sympathy and kinship with the snake highlight the evolving emotional connection between humanity and the natural environment, emphasizing the need for mutual respect and understanding.

Literary Devices

  • Symbolism: The use of the snake as a symbol represents the intricate connection between humanity and nature, embodying elements of fear, understanding, and the interconnectedness of all living beings.
  • Imagery: The vivid sensory imagery, such as "kingfisher-blue sky" and "green snakes swim up to the surface," creates a rich depiction of the natural environment and the evolving emotional journey of the poet.
  • Dialogue: The inclusion of dialogue between the poet and the King Cobra adds depth to the poem, revealing the complexities of human-nature interactions and the snake's perspective on its existence within the human habitat.

Discussion Question

How does the poet's gradual transition from fear to understanding in "The First Meeting" reflect the broader theme of the interconnectedness of humanity and nature? How does the snake's symbolism contribute to the portrayal of the complexities of human-nature relationships and the inevitability of embracing all aspects of the natural world?

the first meeting poem sujata bhatt its summary themes analysis

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