“Grandmother” is a artistic poem by Ray Young Bear in the memory of his grandmother. She is no longer with the poet, but she has left an everlasting impression on him, which he describes in a sensuous detail.
The poet especially remembers four things about his grandmother. They are her purple scarf and plastic shopping bag, warm touch of her hand, the smell of roots from her hands. These things have been printed in his mind so strongly that he would recognize her even from a mile away, he would know a kind of her warm damp hands, he would also listen her voice from behind a rock. All these different images appeal to our different senses like the sense of sight, smell, sound, touch and give a concrete picture of the poet’s grandmother.
Apart from being a poem about the memory of the poet’s grandmother, it is also the poets reflection on the tradition and cultural heritage of Mesquaki tribe of the North America. The poem is an expression of the painful awareness for sense of loss of identity. The smell of root and “a voice coming from a rock” stirs the poet’s heart and makes him long for the disappearing or dead ancestral cultures and traditions.
Solved Questions and answers:
1. What image do you find this poem written by a member of the Mensquaki tribe? To what senses do these image appeal?
Ans: In this poem, there are many images. The remarkable images are ‘purple scarf’, ‘plastic shopping bag’, ‘warm and damp hands with the smell of roots’, ‘voice coming out from a rock’ and a sleeping fire at night. With the help of these images, the poet draws a picture of his all-loving and all inspiring grandmother. All the image are quite related to the attitudes, activities and lifestyle of Mesquaki tribe. Now, most of the tribal people are uncivilized and do not enjoy rich and luxurious life. They march to the field and survive on natural plants. They use the roots as their food, so their hands become warm and damp with the smell of roots. They go to the market with a cheap plastic shopping bag because they have small amount of money. They use purple scarf, need fire at night etc. These images appeal to different sense. For example: the purple scarf, plastic shopping bag, sleeping fire appeal to our sense of sight. The warm and damp hand appeal to our sense of touch. Smell of roots appeal to our sense of smell. The voice coming out from the rock appeal to our sense of hearing. These images give the concrete picture of his grandmother who is always memorable to him.
2. How does the speaker feel towards his grandmother? In what words or lines does he make his feelings clear?
Ans: The speaker has positive feelings towards his grandmother. he finds his grandmother all living and inspiring. She is a source of love and inspiration for him. Although she is already dead, the poet still remembers her warm and damp hands with the smell of roots. He even mentioned that her words would flow inside the poets mind like the light. Here, the poet wants to follow every activity of her because it gives him the right path of true love.