author: Jayanta Mahapatra

place: Puri, Orissa called “Gate of Heaven” dying there = auspicious

talks about rites and rituals we don’t question, faith widows and what they faced

the whole poem is about juxtapositions; about contrast; about irony; the fact that it is a holy land, a gateway to heaven but also ridden by poverty and hunger and apathy


Endless crow noises A skull in the holy sands tilts its empty country towards hunger. White-clad widowed women past the centers of their lives 1 are waiting to enter the Great Temple Their austere eyes stare like those caught in a net hanging by the dawn’s shining strands of faith

The fail early light catches ruined. leprous shells leaning against one another, a mass of crouched faces without names, and suddenly breaks out of my hide into the smoky blaze of a sullen solitary pyre that fills my aging mother: her last wish to be cremated here twisting uncertainly like light on the shifting sands


depicting the disparity present in the pious and religious land of Puri. The city is known for the famous Temple of Lord Jagannath. It is among the four Dhams or religious centres of India. The use of irony, contrast and comparison add effectiveness to the description. He describes the hollowness of the sacred rites and rituals. .

his poems, he deals with the problems of human suffering resulting in forms of hunger, starvation and poverty.

The poem, Dawn at Puri consists of eighteen lines, divided into six stanzas. Each stanza therefore has three lines. In these lines poet gives a picture of suffering and sorrow of which there seems to be no respite.

The poem begins with the description of cremation ground. It is the ‘Gateway to Heaven’ or ‘Swargdwar’.

‘Endless crow noises’ is a suggestive image of the cremation ground. The continuous noise made due to the cawing of the crows indicates the presence of dead body.

there he finds a ‘skull’ lying on the sand. The images of ‘crow’ and ‘skull’ create a perfect atmosphere of cremation ground. skull also signifies poverty, hunger The image of ‘skull in the holy sands’ = irony; opposite contrasting images.

White-clad widowed Women past the centres of their lives are badly treated and disrespected. After the death of their husbands they are forced to wear white saris and live a simple life. It is thought that once their husbands are dead their lives are insignificant. They are believed to have passed the ‘centre of their lives’ (refers to the husband, or to the time when their husband was alive;

The women are like helpless fish caught in the net where they are anxiously waiting for their liberation. their eyes have no joy or pleasure in life. their only hope lies in religious faith, in salvation

wounds and disease make them helpless. The beggars suffer due to poverty. They stand in dim light of morning and beg. The hollowness of religious rituals and truth of grim poverty has been perfectly described.

‘leprous shell’ - we avoid them like they are lepers; negligence and apathy shell can mean body, in which case leprous signifies disease and wounds due to poverty and hinger

He is immediately reminded of his mother’s last wish of being cremated at Puri her last wish to be cremated here


  1. Widows were asked to wear white and not dress up or keep their hair in order to keep them from drawing attention; they are grieving because the center of their lives (husbands) are now dead and they have nothing but death to await. They want to get through the doors of the temple and get purified and go to heaven