Sarojini Naidu, also known as the “Nightingale of India” played an active role in the freedom struggle of India. Most of her poems reflect the nationalistic feelings and this poem is no exception to it. She hails from Hyderabad and this poem is in the praise of the city, its beauty and the richness.
In the poem, the poet appreciates the majesty of the Hyderabadi traditional bazaar. The poem is in the form of questions (asked by the poet) and answers (given by the vendors).
The poem is divided into 5 stanzas having 6 lines each. The rhyme scheme of the poem is abcbcb. The poet uses a number of visual and auditory images in the poem.
In the first stanza, the poet meets some merchants. Seeing their goods which are richly displayed, asks them what they are selling.
The merchants’ reply that they are selling deep red and silvered coloured turbans, purple garments with silver and gold threading, mirrors with amber (a precious resin used for decoration) and also knives whose handles are made up of greenstone (a precious stone).
In the very first stanza, it becomes clear that the poet is trying to tell the readers how rich India is.
Next, the poet goes to vendors and asks them what they are weighing on the scale. They reply that saffron (very precious ingredient), pulses and rice.
Next, she asks the maidens what they are grinding. The maidens reply that they are grinding sandalwood (it yields fragrant timbers and oil), henna ( a dye used for colouring) and spices (India is famous for spices).
She meets salesmen and asks them what they are calling (for selling). They reply that they are selling chessmen and ivory dice (made up of ivory-a precious substance) for Chess Game.
Now, the poet meets goldsmiths and asks them what they are making. They reply that they are making ornaments for wrist and ankles and also rings.
They continue saying that they are making bells for the feet of blue pigeons. These bells are as weak and delicate as the wing of a dragonfly. They are also making belts of god for the dancers’ swords and daggers (made up of gold) for the kings. These lines depict how rich the Indians are.
Next, she meets vendors selling fruits and asks them what they are selling by crying. They reply that they are selling citron, pomegranate, and plum (i.e. all types of fruits).
Now she meets musicians and asks them what they are playing. They reply, “Sitar, sarangi and drum” (i.e. all types of instruments).
Next, she asks magicians what they are chanting. They reply that they are chanting magic spells for aeons (a supreme deity) to help them show their magic tricks.
Finally, she reaches flower-girls and asks them what they are weaving with bright blue and red threads. They reply that they are weaving Crowns for the brow of a bridegroomand flowers to decorate his bedroom.
They are also making new sheets full of white coloured flowers to fill a dead person’s grave with fragrance. Thus they are making everything from one’s joy to his grief.