‘Blessing’, a poem on poverty and water is written by Imtiaz Dharker, a Pakistan-born British poet. Though she was born in Pakistan she was raised in Scotland now lives in Mumbai. She is an artist and a documentary filmmaker as well. She has written six books of poetry and has the first one Purdah was published in 1989. All the illustrations in her books are done by Imtiaz herself. She was the poet in residence in the Cambridge University Library from January to March 2013. She won the Queen’s God Medal for English poetry. ‘Blessing’ is found in her book ‘Purdah’ and is a recreation of the slum scene of Dharavi in Mumbai.
The skin of the people is as cracked or parched as the soil due to the blazing heat. There is no enough water. In such a dry situation the poet imagines and asks the listener to imagine the dripping of water. The small drop makes a little splash and in a tin mug the small splash echoes and it seems as if it is the voice of the kindly god. In places where water is scarce even a drop is considered to be sacred. In the next few lines she asks the listeners to the abundant blessing of god in the form of gushing water. She calls it ‘sudden rush of fortune’. And what is this sudden rush of fortune? The municipal pipe has broken and the water which is like silver gushes out and crashes to the ground. This flow has found many takers and they come from their huts. There is a congregation of people; every man, woman, child from the streets around the broken pipe gather there with their buckets. There are brass, copper, aluminium and plastic buckets. There is no order or line as this was an unexpected rush of water, people butt in with frantic hands to catch as much water as they can, ignoring the other. The children who are naked are the ones who enjoy the most. They are screaming as the water pours overs them. The poetess calls it liquid sun and it is like gold polished to perfection. The water falling over the small bones is truly a blessing for ones who get to see very little water every day in their lives.
The poem ‘Blessing’ has four stanzas of varying lengths. The first one has two lines, the second has four lines, third eleven lines and the last stanza has six lines. The meter of the lines also varies and there is specific rhyme scheme making it a free verse. However, in the third stanza she has used the words ‘ground, found, around’ to give a semblance of cohesion. The lines flow smoothly and there is rush of words which symbolises the rush of water. Enjambment is used to give the necessary pauses to highlight the flow.
Poetic devices, like vivid imagery, personification, figurative language, simile and more, gives a visual treat and conveys a feel and subtle messages. ‘Blessing’ is one such poem which makes use of many poetic devices to give the message on the importance of water. The rich and the poor need water but the poor have little access to it and it is this that is highlighted. The poem has a lot of imagery. Water is described as silver. Silver is both a colour and a precious metal. Water is precious and though generally considered colourless, the closes t water can get to is silver colour.This poem has a lot for the senses. For the eyes there is flashing, naked; for the ears echo, voice, crashes, roar, sings. The poet also asks us to image and create the scene in our imagination. The poem starts with a simile ‘cracks like a pod’.
Alliteration in a poem gives a flow to the poem as it is words starting with the same consonants placed one after another or after another word in between. ‘Small splash’, ‘polished to perfection’ are the alliteration used in the poem.
Assonance is created when words come close together with similar sounding vowels. ‘Blessing, sings’, ‘plastic, bucket, frantic’ are examples of assonance in this poem. Enjambment is a period or punctuation in between a line. This enables the writer to convey or continue the thought to the next line. Enjambment is used in three places in this poem and helps in keeping the pace moving and is a syntactical structure. When an inanimate object is given life it is called personification. The dripping of water into a tin mug is considered to be the kindly voice of god; water is personified here.
The use of ‘liquid sun’ is very different. Liquid can be considered as an adjective and as an oxymoron. Sun can never be liquid but water in this poem is termed as liquid sun. Some of the other adjectives used in the poem are very powerful. ‘Small’ is used two times, once to describe the splash and the other to describe the bones of the children. Small splash of water also brings great joy to the people on the streets. Small bones indicate the impoverished state of the children. ‘Frantic hands’ speaks a lot about the grim situation. Everyone wants to fill their vessels with water and store it for few days. The last but direct indication of the poverty of the people is the adjective ‘naked children’. This followed by ‘small bones’ paints a clear picture of the scene of the slum area.
This poem tells how precious water is especially in countries where the climate is hot. In places of water shortage, thirst is a perennial problem. The blessing in this poem is the bursting of the water pipe which actually sows callousness of the administration but it turns out to be a boon for the people. The word ‘blessing’ which is also the title is seen in the line before the concluding line. At the end of the poem there is some hope and joy in the description of the delight of the children.