‘Before the Potter gave you to the world’ – It is interesting to note that Potter is spelt with a capital which gives it an added significance – it is not just another potter, but someone who signifies someone bigger. Giving something to the world has the connotation of ownership – as if the Potter has taken ownership of the earth – as if the Potter can do anything with the earth as it wishes. It specifically gives the connotation of selling or presenting a product to a customer base – gave you to the world. A product to be enjoyed. Or, it could also be taken as a person who has gone through a certain type of training or brainwashing. Perhaps it is the education system which has created a certain product out of the student, to join the workforce. The individual has not been allowed to be its natural self, but has been forced to go through harsh, unnatural, forceful and violent changes. The persons natural longings and inclinations have been denied it. And she has to submit to the arbitrary authority of the Potter. It is the potter who dictates what the product is going to be.
‘I felt vast feeling of sorrow’ – Another very important fact about the Goblet is that, even though it is given a voice, and as the quotation suggests, even though it clearly has feelings, the above quotation shows us how the goblet has been reduced to a product. There is nothing unique about the goblet. Its natural state and its uniqueness in being that unshapely earth has been transformed into a mould – It no longer has its personality. It no longer has its previous character. And the goblet grieves this massive lost of identity. Imagine how people are forced to go through so many changes just to conform/survive in society. This demand to change who they are, change their principles and sometimes believes, changes their identity. Some people have to part with their religion, community, rituals and things to do with their culture. Under the colonizers, the local people had to surrender many of their cultural elements and practices. Sometimes they even had to stop using their own language. These tragic changes will cause the goblet to feel this overwhelming sense of loss and sorrow.
Repetition of CAST
The word cast is used as a verb twice in the poem. This naturally reminds the reader of the caste system in India (it still remains influential upon the lives of many people). When people are born, they are born with a clean slate – they have no good or bad, and they have not done anything to deserve merit or punishment. But depending on the family they are born into, their caste is decided upon. They have no control of it, at all. Imagine if you were born into the untouchables (Dalit) caste! Even their presence was believed to be impure! When you are born into such a system which labels you as an impure and unworthy person right at your birth, to whom do you look to? What questions do you ask? The poet introduces the Potter as the person responsible for casting you into this shape. The FORCE which trapped you with such an identity as a goblet/ Dalit / Harijan. And in the context of 18th/19th century America – an African slave. These people were born into these fates. Who created these ideologies which assert that certain people are slaves, less intelligent, under-privileged, impure, inferior while others are superior? It is the people – society. And it is maintained by people who enjoy those privileges. This social constructs that ideas like the caste system propagate oppresses millions of people around the world. The reality the goblet is facing is not much different.
The potter can be taken to symbolize a number of things.
- Humans irresponsibly using natural resources.
- Society which dictates how an individual should think, behave, speak and what a person should become.
- The education system which rigidly creates copies out of people in order to prepare them for traditional jobs without giving any thought to what the child actually wants to and would enjoy doing, as an occupation.
Humans and Nature
The goblet represents nature, and the potter represents humans. The phrase ‘gave you to the world’ connotes how nature is consumed by us. Capitalism and Conservation does not go together. Capitalism is about exploitation of human labour and natural resources. This is emphasized in the play ‘Twilight of a Crane’ as well, where Tsu, who symbolizes nature, is exploited by Yohyo and his acquaintances who are driven by profit – capitalism. Here, in this poem, the potter makes the goblet into a product to be sold.