ChapterThe Power Of Music

The poem “The Power of Music” by Bengali poet Sukumar Ray humorously depicts the negative impact of a terrible singer named Bhisma Lochan Sharma. Bhisma sings loudly and passionately, his voice carrying from Delhi to Burma, disturbing the peace of humans, animals and even plants.

Meet the Author

  • Sukumar Ray was a Bengali poet from British India. His poems are known for his hilarious way of expressing nonsense verses.
  • Born: 30th October, 1887
  • Place of Birth: Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
  • Died: 10th September, 1923
  • Best Known For: He is known for his humorous and absurdist nonsense poetry, plays, and stories for children, which pioneered the genre in Bengali literature.
A loud singer
A loud singer

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Summary & Analysis

The Poem “The Power of Music” by Sukumar Ray depicts a different approach to describing music. Music evokes divine emotions that are usually pleasant to hear. Here the poet showcases music as a medium of noise that creates chaos. This interprets the true example of satire in the poem.

The poet expresses how Bhisma Lochan Sharma is passionate in singing irrespective of how terrible his voice is. He sings in such a way that his entire life is dependent on it. The poet exaggerates the tuneless singing of Bhisma so that it can be heard from Delhi to Burma. Here he expresses that music is not confined to one location but is spread universally.

He sings as though he’s staked his life, he sings
as though he’s hell-bent;
The people, dazed, retire amazed although they
Know it’s well-meant.

The poet talks about the discomfort caused to the people who feel dazed and have turned pale. He is so intrigued by his singing that he fails to listen to the people who plead with him to stop singing. He then exaggerates the situation by personifying the animals. The bullock carts are overturned and horses move away to the roadside unable to bear his singing. He comes up with unnatural situations like horses that whine and raise their feet upwards, fishes that dive down deep in search of silence, trees that fall, and birds that fly upside down.

They whine and stare with feet in air or wonder
quite confounded.
The fishes dived below the lake in frantic search
for silence,
The very trees collapse and shake - you hear the
crash a mile hence -
And in the sky the feathered fly turn turtle while
they're winging,

The sky is being humanized here that cries out and houses fall apart due to his unbearable singing. Finally a wise goat attacks with a more dominant bellow sound that makes Bhisma stop his singing.Through this, the poet tells that even noise turned to silence could bring out the POWER OF MUSIC.

The welkin weeps to hear his screech, and mighty
mansions tumble.
But now there comes a billy goat, a most
sagacious fellow,
He downs his horns and charges straight, with
bellow answ'ring bellow.

These lines describes the climactic ending of Bhisma Lochan Sharma's disruptive singing. Even the sky itself seems to weep at the sound of his screeching, while mighty mansions tumble from the force of his voice. However, a wise billy goat arrives on the scene and charges straight at Bhisma, meeting his bellow with its own.

The force of this "brutal violence" between the two bellows tosses and whirls the strains of Bhisma's song. Ultimately, Bhisma Lochan Sharma is silenced, granting the world the "golden gift of silence" after his singing had caused so much chaos. The billy goat, described as a "sagacious fellow", represents the return to order and sanity, physically stopping Bhisma's disruptive singing. The exaggerated reactions and the goat's intervention underscore the sheer unpleasantness of Bhisma's performance and the need for a corrective force to restore balance when things go awry

The Power of Music is a single-stanza poem divided into 20 lines. It is part of the ICSE Class 10 English Literature curriculum. The style of writing is narrative. The rhyme scheme followed here is aabbcc. Let’s now look at some of the literary devices used in the poem.

A terrible singer who is egged
A terrible singer who is egged

Rhyming Words

The words “violence” and “silence” rhyme together in the lines “Whirled by blast of brutal violence” and “grants the world the golden gift of silence”. The other rhyming words are given below:

  • Comes-hums
  • Sharma –Burma
  • Hell bent –well meant
  • Sickly – quickly

Personification

The poet uses personification throughout the poem, here are some examples:

  • The wretched brutes resent the blare line refers to the horse that behaves like a human.
  • Comes a billy goat, a most sagacious fellow line refers to the goat being compared to the qualities of a human being.
  • The welkin weeps to hear his screech line refers to the sky that weeps like a human unable to bear his singing.

Alliteration

It is the repetition of consonant sounds at the start of two or more consecutive words. Here are some examples from the poem:

  • He’s hell-bent
  • Booming out his broadside
  • Feathered fly
  • Turn turtle
  • Stop your singing
  • Welkin weeps
  • Hear his
  • Mighty mansions
  • His horns
  • Strains of song
  • Blast of brutal
  • Golden gift

Hyperbole

It is the emphasizing and exaggeration of situations. It is a commonly used literary device in nonsense poetry. Here are some examples from the poem:

  • They’re trampled in panic rout
  • The bullock-carts are overturned
  • Horses line the roadside
  • They whine and stare with feet in air
  • The welkin weeps
  • Mighty mansions tumble

The poem ends with a funny rhythmic tone of receiving the golden gift of silence through brutal violence. It also highlights that music in a negative way can make people understand its power. This shows the brilliance of nonsense literature that interprets music in a contrasting way with an intended comic effect.

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Above and Beyond the Text

Nonsense Poetry

The poem is a representation of Nonsensical poetry, started in the late 19th century. It is a form of light verse, whimsically made-up words in a rhythmic tone to attract children. The use of ‘hyperbolic situations’ gives life to inanimate objects. These poems also depict the rhyming scheme in a funny way to bring out the comic structure of the poem. The above poem evokes the power of music through silence.

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The Power Of Music Questions and Answers

Below are a few questions that you can look out for your examinations and class tests. Stand out with perfectly written answers with help of Aneetta Class.

The people pleaded with Bhisma to stop his singing as they ran in panic, got trampled, and got sick and pale.

The fish that dived deep down the lakes in search of silence was considered absurd. It was because fishes do not have the capacity to hear sound underwater. Hence it felt unnatural.

A wise goat attacks Bhisma with a loud raucous sound clashing with his discordant singing. This was termed as the brutal violence in the poem that stops his singing, granting us the golden gift of silence.