The poem “Enterpirse” by Nissim Ezekiel, a modern neo-symbolist poet in Anglo-Indian poetry, treats a quite interesting enterprise, often hindered or hampered, to reach ultimately to no satisfactory goal.
Investing the said “enterprise” with a symbolic suggestiveness, the poet sharply shows how, after labour, disintegration, suffering and losses the ultimate reward becomes simply frustration.
The enterprise began with enthusiasm and continued boldly, ignoring hindrances and exertions.
It started – the enterprise began. The object or purpose of the enterprise is not at all stated. This is presented as some human pursuit for a purpose, material, intellectual, or spiritual.
They bore the situation quite well and seemed to progress satisfactorily with their proposed work. They scanned and studied what might be necessary to their success in the proposed enterprise.
Differences grew over a petty matter and resulted in the breach among the members. One friend of much value deserted, casting a gloom over all.
But when the difference arose – things, however, did not go smoothly. The persons in the enterprise could not stand the situation very well for long.
Further disruptions followed in the next stage. The erstwhile enthusiastic enterprisers were affronted with hostilities twice and even lost their track. Desertion became imminent despite the poet’s pleading and the leader’s assertive hopefulness.
The poet and his mates advanced without any aim. They seemed to be a disorganized, disconsolate band. They looked callous, heedless to the impending danger, and were deprived even of the common necessities of life. They were on the verge of utter disaster.
The two pictures of the first stanza and of the present are glaringly antithetical. One is marked with the high spirit, the fresh enthusiasm and the challenging attitude. The other exposes a state of disintegration, disorderliness, dismay and downfall.
They reached their destination at long last. But they wondered to ascertain their purpose of coming there. The enterprise had affected each of them bitterly. Their realization was bitter, too, that they had attained nothing and that they were to turn to home for the bliss of life.