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This poem is written by Sarojini Naidu, the ‘Nightingale of India’. It has three stanzas of four lines each. It uses the metaphor of weaving for the human life. The poem associates different phases of human life with different colours and different times of a day.
WEAVERS, weaving at break of day, Why do you weave a garment so gay? . . . Blue as the wing of a halcyon wild, We weave the robes of a new-born child.
The speaker asks the weavers about what they are weaving at break of day. These early hours of morning when the first rays of the rising Sun appear refer to the earliest phase of human life- the childhood. The garment they are weaving is Blue as the wing of a halcyon. The blue colour of the new-born’s robe is symbolic of birth, new beginnings and happiness.
Weavers, weaving at fall of night, Why do you weave a garment so bright? . . . Like the plumes of a peacock, purple and green, We weave the marriage-veils of a queen.
The weavers in the second stanza are still engaged in the task of weaving. This is the daytime and it refers to the youth of one’s life. The bright garment of purple and green colour is a metaphor for the carefree and bright period of human life which is full of health, high spirits and vigour. The marriage-veils mean that youth is the period for love and marriage.
Weavers, weaving solemn and still, What do you weave in the moonlight chill? . . . White as a feather and white as a cloud, We weave a dead man's funeral shroud.
By the third stanza, the day has come to an end and the chilling night has taken over. The weavers are still at work but the colour of the garment is now white. Their mood is solemn and still because of the awareness of an approaching death. While the chill is symbolic of the difficulties of old age, the darkness of the night symbolises death. Just like the human life ends with death, the day of the weavers end with their final garment of the day which is a dead man’s funeral shroud.
In each stanza, a voice questions the weavers about what they are weaving and the collective voice of the weavers responds to this question. Weaving all day becomes a metaphor for living one’s life. Thus, the poem moves from the carefree mood of childhood through the energetic mood of youth and finally ends with a sombre mood of old age and death.