The Song of the Stormy Petrel

Will any of our poets write such a battle anthem of the coming revolution in India?

Markandey Katju

Markandey Katju

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
A painting by Prem Chaudhary

It is evident now that a revolution is coming in India, since all state institutions have collapsed and become hollow and empty shells, and on the other hand the people’s distress has reached alarming heights, with record and growing unemployment, appalling level of child malnourishment, skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs and fuel, almost total lack of proper healthcare and good education for the masses, continuing farmers suicides, etc.

To divert attention from these the government can only take recourse to diversionary gimmicks like building a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Pakistan bashing, polarising society on religious lines (to win elections) etc. but has no idea how to resolve the real huge problems facing the nation. So a revolution is inevitable.

revolution
Maxim Gorky – A painting

The Song of the Stormy Petrel was a poem written in March 1901 by the great Russian writer Maxim Gorky, and became known as the battle anthem of the coming Russian Revolution, just as ‘La Marseillaise‘ written in 1792 by Rouget de Lisle became known as the battle anthem of the French Revolution, and ‘Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai’ became the battle anthem of the Indian Independence Struggle. It was a favourite of Lenin.

In 1901 Russia was under the despotic and autocratic rule of Tsar Nicholas II. There was a strict press censorship, and it was dangerous to criticise the Tsar or the government directly, so writers had to write allegorically and symbolically (just as the Urdu poet Faiz had to do during the martial law regime in Pakistan ).

A petrel is a bird, and ‘The Song of the Stormy Petrel’ describes the brave and glorious flight of a petrel (symbolising the revolutionaries) wheeling below the dark sky, but high over the ocean waves (symbolising the discontented masses) during a storm (symbolising the revolution), when other birds like sea gulls (symbolising the so called ‘intellectuals’), loons (symbolising the middle classes) and penguins (symbolising the fat rich) cower terrified in fear.

The stormy petrel is the harbinger of the coming tempest (the revolution), who sobs in ecstasy as he urges on the storm.

Tsar Nicholas II

On publication in Russia in 1901, the impact of the poem was immediate and enormous. Everyone understood the symbolism, and millions of copies were made by hand and machines. The poem was read in all revolutionary meetings, to workers and students all over Russia, set to music and sung everywhere.

Before long, Gorky, whose sympathy for revolutionaries was well known, was arrested.

Will any of our poets write such a battle anthem of the coming storm in India? Or will Faiz Ahmed Faiz’ poem ‘Hum dekhenge‘ serve this purpose.

_______________

Watch video:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Markandey Katju

Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India.

Disclaimer : PunjabTodayTV.com and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors’ right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabTodayTV.com or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT

Author Related Post
Related Post

Copyright © Punjab Today TV : All right Reserve 2016 - 2020