Critically analyse the poem ‘Enterprise’. What are the religious implications in the poem?
The enterprise poem of thirty lines in six stanzas of five lines each is from The Unfnished Man. The dominant pattern is an iambic tetrameter, with the rhyme scheme of abaab. It shows at once Nissim’s commitment to certain poetic values–regularity, orderliness of form, clarity of thought, and precision of diction. Reminiscent of Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi,” this poem is about the inevitable disillusionment which greets the conchsion of any grand enterprise. Some lines like “what the thunder meant,” as well as several phrases, allude to Eliot’s Wasteland.
The interpretation of the poem hinges on the meaning of “enterprise.” What enterprise is being referred to in the poem? It seems to me that the word has a vast symbolic potential. It could refer to something as broad as the independence of India or it could even be a critique of romantic idealism. There is a gradual progression of moods in the poem, from hope, almost to despair at the end, but what gives the poem both coherence and strength is the detached realism of the speaker’s voice. As the observer, witness, and narrator, he retains a grim commitment to the truth of the moment, never letting himself slide into rage or self-pity.