The journey to the pilgrimage in Nissim Ezekiel’s poem ‘Enterprise’ is a metaphorical one. Elucidate.
The pilgrimage in the poem ‘Enterprise’ is a metaphor for the journey of life. The pilgrimage started with high flying ideals but faced a lot of challenges in the middle and ended up in frustration. Similarly, our life generally begins with high hopes and dreams, but we face hurdles throughout the life’s venture. And at the end of the troublesome journey, we often are dejected by what we actually achieve.
At the beginning of the pilgrimage, people were highly enthusiastic. All burdens seemed to be lighter. But the situation changed gradually. The scorching sun tried to match their rage, though it failed to test them well. They were seen to be observing and taking notes on everything they came across, wasting their time and energy. They visited three cities where a sage had taught without concerning themselves with what his message was.
Then arose the differences among themselves on petty matters like how to cross a desert. The finest prose writer among them, seemingly the most intellectual one, left the group due to his different opinions. While he was supposed to be holding others together in the time of need, he chose the other way around.
More hurdles came when the group was attacked twice and a section claimed their liberty from the group. The leader tried to soothe people when they were getting dejected deprived of basic amenities like soap. They were exhausted due to the long journey full of hardships. But finally they reached their destination. Some were broken and some merely bent by then.
At the end of this journey, they hardly knew why they were there. They didn’t find the tiring journey to be worthy at all. It was neither great nor rare. Many people had already reached there. So they concluded “Home is where we have to gather grace.“
Now, critics are divided in their interpretation of this poem and the metaphor in it. But most of them agree that this poem is an allegory for the journey of life. One explanation says, we don’t need to go to a pilgrimage for the spiritual needs; The God is inside us, so we need to listen to our inner self. Another interpretation suggests that we should take care of the men around us and earn their love and respect in order to lead a happy and meaningful life. Some critics also suggest that the word ‘home’ indicates the poet’s commitment towards his home in Mumbai.
(Read more detailed interpretations in the main article here.)