Poetry in “The Postmaster” symbolizes both the necessity and the difficulty of understanding and articulating human emotion. Like the postmaster, Rabindranath Tagore was a poet—albeit an accomplished one, whereas the postmaster struggles to write poems more than “occasionally.” Written in lyrical, romantic prose, “The Postmaster” is itself imbued with a sense of poetic style and rhythm, and the postmaster’s poetic musings on nature and loneliness—coupled with his own attempts at poems that express “a romantic sentiment of happiness”—contribute to the sense that in Tagore’s view, lyricism and poetry are tools suited to encapsulating the intense emotions underpinning human relationships and identities. However, at the end of the story, it is “philosophy,” poetry’s opposite, that provides the postmaster with a degree of comfort and relief as he ponders his departure from Ulapur and the “melancholic face” of Ratan, the “ordinary village girl” he has left behind. Thus, poetry is shown to be both incredibly vital to emotional expression and ultimately ineffectual; poetry can only articulate emotion, not explain or justify it. The postmaster’s philosophy, though, clarifies that “in life there are many separations, many deaths,” providing order to episodes of grief and loss.
Poetry Quotes in The Postmaster
Sometimes he tried to write poems. The bliss of spending one’s life watching the leaves trembling in the trees or the clouds in the sky—that was what the poems expressed. God knew, however, that if a genie out of an Arab tale had come and cut down all the leafy trees overnight, made a road, and blocked out the sky with rows of tall buildings, this half-dead, well-bred young man would have come alive again.