BACKGROUND OF THE POET
Jean – Joseph Rabearivelo was born in 1901 in Antananarivo, Madagascar. He was the only child of his mother. He was educated at Catholic mission school, and his desire to study more earned him an improvement in French language. After graduating from college, he worked as a proof – reader for a local publishing house in Antananarivo. It was believed that Jean – Joseph took his own life in 1937.
Pomegranate by Jean Joseph
The rays of the new – born sun
search under the branches
the beast of the ripe pomegranate
and bite it till it bleeds.
Discreet and shuddering kiss
hard and scaling embrace.
Soon the pure thrust
will draw purple blood.
Its taste will be sweeter,
because it was pregnant with desire
And with fearful love
and scented blossoms –
Pregnant by the lover sun.
Analysis/summary of Pomegranate by Jean – Joseph Rabearivelo
Jean – Joseph Rabearivelo is a nature poet whose poetic writing regularly focalizes on the beauty of nature. He clearly demonstrates this in “Pomegranate,” a of three stanzas and thirteen lines. Pomegranate is round thick – skinned reddish fruit containing seeds in a red juicy flesh. In the poem, Jean – Joseph Rabearivelo portrays the sun rays on pomegranate fruit as a romantic consummation which exists between the sun and the fruit. The pregnancy which resulted from their consummation is therefore the ripening of the fruit. In the first stanza, Jean – Joseph emphasizes on the romantic meeting of the sun rays with the fruit. The second stanza discloses the foreplay and consummation between the sun rays and the fruit and the third stanza however, is the actual pregnancy of the fruit.
In the first stanza, the early morning sun begins to search for pomegranate whom it has in previous day fallen deeply in love with. The sun does this search by throwing its rays upon the branches of pomegranate tree. But the sun fails in meeting any of the fruits on the branches. This is clearly as a result of the sun rays not reaching the entire pomegranate tree duly to the early sun rising. Patience is one of the keys to love and the sun waits. Time drags by, and by this time, the sun rays reach ninety percent of the fruits. The search of the sun rays become extremely successful at this point as it searches thoroughly “under the branches/ the breast of the ripe pomegranate.” The sun begins gradually to woo the “ripe pomegranate.” The poet – speaker describes this as “bite it till it bleeds.”
In the second stanza, the ripe pomegranate fruits and the sun begin their “discreet” relationship and not long they plunge into “shuddering kiss” amidst with a “scalding embrace.” In line 7, the poet – speaker reveals that the foreplay instantaneously leads to actual sex. This is referred to as “Soon the pure thrust,” and the pomegranate fruits which are virgin begin to bleed:
Soon the pure thrust
will draw purple blood
Symbolically, the purple blood is the colour which appears on fruits – an indication that the fruit will soon ripe. The purple blood also signifies the early pregnancy of the fruits.
In the third stanza, the poet – speaker avers that now the fruits are ripened, “its taste will be sweeter.” The reason is “because it was pregnant with desire.” Desire of the fruit means that the fruit is mature. This showcases equally that the fruit gets ripened at a seasonal and mature stage. As a result of the fruit getting ripe maturely, it will permeate a good scent. This is described as “scented blossom” – line 12. The reason for the fruit “scented blossoms” is mainly because of its “pregnant by the lover sun.”
Literary devices/figures of speech
Theme: Consummation is the dominant theme in the poem “Pomegranate.” The poet – speaker describes the contact of the sun rays with pomegranate fruit as the beginning of sexual relationship which resulted to the pregnancy of the fruit. The pregnancy is noted as the ripening of the fruit.
Repetition: The emphasis of words such as “pregnancy” is repeated twice in line 10 and 13. “Sun” – line 1 and 13.
Enjambment: The poet uses enjambment in the first stanza as most of the poem lines run into one another. For example, line 1, 2 and 3 respectively run into one another, making the reader to have no break.
Structure: The poem is composed of three stanzas. The first and second stanzas have four lines which is quatrain. The third stanza is however arranged in five lines. This makes the last stanza to be quintet. The poem is in total made up of 13 lines.
Imagery: The sun is portrayed as a male while the pomegranate is the female. The words, “new – born sun” conjures a picture of early morning sun rays. “Search under the branches” gives an image of the sun rays reaching the the branches of the pomegranate tree. “Pregnant” as used in line 10 and 13 indicates or renders the image of the ripening of pomegranate fruit.
Diction: The words used in the poem are extremely simple to understand. They don’t demand for much poetic thinking for the meaning.