The Postmaster


Rabindranath Tagore

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Poetry Symbol Icon

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

The The Postmaster quotes below all refer to the symbol of Poetry. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender, Class, and Inequality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Postmaster published in 1991.
The Postmaster Quotes

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.

Related Characters: The Postmaster
Related Symbols: Poetry
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
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Poetry Symbol Timeline in The Postmaster

The timeline below shows where the symbol Poetry appears in The Postmaster. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Postmaster
Melancholy and the Sublime Natural World Theme Icon
Urban and Rural Life Theme Icon
...has little work to do in Ulapur, and he sometimes spends his free time writing poems, which express the joy to be found in observing nature. However, he is “half-dead” in... (full context)