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Blessing by Imtiaz Dharker

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Blessing by Imtiaz Dharker

Imtiaz Dharker’s poem can be read in two ways. A straightforward
reading might suggest that the poem is simply a description of an
incident when a pipe bursts and people run excitedly for the water.

A more considered reading, however, would see the poem as being more
ominous and disturbing.

Under the apparent good fortune and excitement of the scene are darker
ideas about the poverty and superstition of the people in the poet’s
native country.

It is the second reading we will be exploring in this revision

Either way, the attitude to water in the poem should make us in the
West wonder at how much we all take for granted, and how too often we
squander the earth’s resources.

Dharker paints for the reader a vivid scene using visual and aural

For instance, after opening with a powerful visual image, the poet
goes on to make us hear the smallest noise ‘echo/ in a tin mug’,
before upping the sound level with the ‘roar of tongues’ as people
descend on the pipe.

The title of the poem appears to be ironic.

These people are not blessed - they have little water of their own.
Only superstition could lead them to count this ‘municipal pipe’ burst
as a blessing.

In reality, it shows the poor state of the pipes, part of the city’s
basic infrastructure, pipes that should be carrying water to the
people. The fact that the people live in ‘huts’, that the children are
‘naked’ and that everyone is ‘frantic’ for the water tell us a lot
about the living conditions.

There is a lot of sensual imagery in this poem. Mainly we hear and see
the unfolding scene.

These details show us what the people’s lives are like. In the
following table are some of the vis...

... middle of paper ...

... darker, and
harder hitting.

The layers of the poem reflect the way different people will see the
same scene/culuture differently.


The poet appears at first to be objective, describing but not
commenting on the incident. And to some extent she leaves the reader
to decide the feeling and meaning of the poem. Perhaps though there is
horror and pity in that opening image of skin cracking ‘like a pod’.
To me the poem seems like a lament for the poverty of these people and
for the value system that keeps them poor, yet humble and thankful.


Dharker uses sensual imagery to evoke the scene, and builds the rhythm
of the poem into a crescendo at the bursting of the pipe. She uses an
extended metaphor, comparing water to a god. She makes lines
intentionally ambiguous, uncertain, so that the scene can be
interpreted in more than one way.

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