Poetry is the awakening of our conscience. In ‘A Walk by Moonlight’ Derozio illustrates how, on a casual walk, he is “allied to all the bliss, which other worlds we’re told afford”. The walk and observation makes him question life and introspect as well.
The poem starts with pleasant memories of the previous night. Derozio feels blessed with a gift. In the future, when his mind is in turmoil and anxiety, he can ponder and contemplate upon this moment and find a “happy spot” in his memories to rest. He says that there are some memories in our past which we keep looking to, “soft hours” which are far away and “vague” but they never “burn out” and disappear. And when some of these memories were thrown across his path the previous night his heart was so uplifted, he thought “it could have flown”.
Derozio had been to meet a friend and saw other friends there too. All were people who thought in the same manner; they shared a common bond.
“Like minds to like mind ever tendâ€”
An universal law”.
When he asked them for a walk, three at once joined him. They were his cherished friends â€” two were people with intellectual minds and in age were his equals, the other was young but “endeared” by all.
The beauty of the night transforms their thinking and revives their hearts, which had become numb and feelingless. The poet is deeply touched by small movements of nature and uses them metaphorically to bring out the joy and enlightenment that he receives.
The moon looked powerful and majestic in the sky, and benignly looked down upon the earth. The clouds “divided” and broke apart “in homage to her worth” by not trying to obscure her. The leaves swayed slightly due to the breeze but Derozio feels that they are actually dancing and “rejoicing” for the “influence of the moon”. The moon in turn seems to throw light on the leaves and make them silver robes. For the one hour, when the moon is on its zenith, the leaves look “mystic” and magical.
The winds too seem to be singing and “hymning” in praise of the strength of the moon. The winds take on the role of minstrels, whose songs provoke Derozio’s soul. He feels that there is something magical in the night that “bind” them together in its spell and enchants them with its beauty. They are moved to such a great extent that they not only saw but also “felt the moonlight” around them.
Amidst such a splendid scenario, the poet turns philosophical and becomes sensitive to the objects of nature. He first speaks of the “mysterious” relationship between man and nature, which though “vague”, “bind us to our earth”. The natural world fills our hearts with their “tones of holly mirth” and divine joy.
Derozio then talks of the “lovely” old memories which help us in getting a better insight of ourselves. Due to this awareness we are able to connect with our spiritual selves. And when this happens, man stands “proud”; this is the uniqueness of man â€” to be touched and be enriched by nature.
To understand the universe, we must first understand ourselves. In times we are living, our senses have become numb. We have lost the opportunity to be stirred by beauty, but Derozio feels immense joy and pleasure as his senses are awakened at once. All his memories clear up and he is enthused by the beauty of Nature. All Nature is God’s creation and He saw sadness in man. It is only when man is able to release his soul will he survive and as Derozio glimpses the celestial hand of Nature, he too becomes divine.
Now enlightened, Derozio realizes that our bodies are mortal. He finds out that,
“This earthliness goes by,
And we behold the spiritualness
Of all that cannot die”.
The earth and all its beauty is given to us as a gift. When we understand this, we understand our spirituality and we are better human beings.
This self-realization is sudden and rare. It is then that we recognize the voices that this “night-wind sings”. The rustling of the trees, the winds, leaves…everythingâ€”it is then that we apprehend that the “mystic melody” of Nature carries a message. These voices make the forest look like a musical instrument. We too begin speaking the “silken language of the stars”. Only then do we realize that it is sympathy that “pales the young moon’s cheek”.
Our inner eye opens up and we can see the real possibilities that are within us. These glorious things may appear to others on the “sleeper’s couch” but we no more see them as dreams. They are not unreachable rainbows.
It is said that such “bliss” is received only in “other worlds” death. Derozio thanks God and Nature for receiving this illumination in this life itself. His heart fills with happiness and is “bettered” when he feels that he is a part of Nature and Nature is a part of him. They are “gently bound”.
However lifeless and separated the flowers the stars and the sky seem, which ordinary minds may not understand, they too have their objectives. Nature has the purpose to “stir our sympathy” and move our hearts. Derozio concludes by saying that he cannot even stamp the grass as he walks.
“The grass has then a voice
Its heart â€” I hear it beat.”