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Sarojini Naidu's poem A Rajput Love Song has the stanza:

Haste, O wild-bee hours, to the gardens of the sunset!
Fly, wild-parrot day, to the orchards of the west!
Come, O tender night, with your sweet,
consoling darkness,
And bring me my Beloved to the shelter of my breast!

And later, another very similar stanza:

Haste, O wild-deer hours, to the meadows of the sunset!
Fly, wild-stallion day, to the pastures of the west!
Come, O tranquil night, with your soft,
consenting darkness,
And bear me to the fragrance of my Beloved's breast!

My question is, what do the parts in bold allude to? Why do the hours belong to the wild deer and bees? Why do the days belong to the wild stallions and parrots? The repetition is obviously intended; what is the effect she's trying to achieve?

1 Answer 1

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This is a kind of double hypallage, “a figure of speech in which there is an interchange of two elements of a proposition”.

So, for example, the first line:

Haste, O wild-bee hours, to the gardens of the sunset!

is an interchanged form of:

Haste, O hours, to the sunset, like wild bees to the gardens!

which is a straightforward simile meaning, “let time pass as quickly as wild bees fly to the gardens, so that my lover can be here sooner”. But the interchange of elements takes this straightforward simile, and generates from it the strange and poetic images of “wild-bee hours” and “gardens of the sunset”, giving an impression of the heightened state of mind of the speaker as they anticipate their lover’s arrival.

A well-known example of double hypallage is found at Aeneid 6.268 where Servius commented:

“[ibant] obscuri sola sub nocte” aut hypallage est “sub obscura nocte soli ibant”

“they walked dark under lonely night” is hypallage for “under dark night they walked lonely”

Servius (c. 500). Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil, note to 6.268. Perseus Digital Library.

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  • That's a neat explanation for this- I've learned something new today. Thanks!
    – CDR
    Oct 18, 2023 at 14:49

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