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14 Jun

Bicycle- David Malouf


David Malouf

I 1.b


II. 1. The bicycle is the stranger from the streets.

     2. A bookcase, two chairs and a mirror are the other inmates of the room.

     3. The mirror remains undisturbed by the grandeur of the bicycle. It holds the storm of light unbroken, calmly accepting all traffic through its gaze.

     4. The messengers of time are like huge stick-insects. They are wingless and spoked with stars.

III. 1. The poem ‘Bicycle’ by David Malouf is a warning issued by the poet to mankind, reminding us of the perils involved in worshipping machines. The bicycle, initially described as a stranger from the streets, gradually acquires the qualities of the ‘godhead’. The handlebars of the bicycle remind the poet of the polished horns of a forest deity. The poet wonders whether the bicycle is a forest deity or a deity of highway and sky. He is amused to note that such a divine presence has set up residence in his flat. The poet even goes to the extent of calling the bicycle a ‘godhead invoked in a machine’.

2. Towards the end of the poem ‘Bicycle’, the bicycle seems to become an agent of death. The concluding parts of the poem are shrouded in mystery. However, a close reading of the poem reveals that the poem ends on a note of warning. The messengers of time appear as time itself seems to have given up on its experiment with man. The human species as a whole has failed to be successful. Instead of being the master, man becomes a slave to machines. The reference to ‘the shock-wave of collision’ at the end of the poem suggests that the bicycle, a machine, has become an agent of death and destruction. The uncertainty of events creates an eerie atmosphere. A sense of fear and anxiety grips the reader as the poem comes to an end.


Copyright © Manu Mangattu, Assistant Professor, Department of English, SGC Aruvithura

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