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The Ravaged Patch of Past

Post Graduate (Master of Arts) in English Literature and Philosophy

The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, Joseph Mallord William Turner


To disinherit someone of their ancestral land is one of the most contemptible crimes one can commit. Yet, it has been committed since time immemorial. The ancestral land is not just a plot of land or a piece of property to which you can assign economic value. It is also a part of history for the people living there. Threads of memory are connected to the plot of land. Memories that are planted as saplings childhood and takes root as one grows older. When one is legally or illegally dispossessed of his/her ancestral land without the person's consent, or coerced under pressure - the victim faces a dual impoverishment, the loss of the actual property (per its economic value) and the loss of the threads of memory that bound the person to childhood. The saplings, which are now trees are violently uprooted and the memory completely destroyed. This act not only deprives someone of his/her right but also a violent erasure of memory.

The poem itself was inspired by Leonard Cohen's lyrics for the song Nevermind.

The Poem

The Ravaged Patch of Past

As you expertly surveyed the horizon
Resolute on building your domain
Your heart desired what your eyes beheld
Your Godlike craving you could not refrain

As your burning eyes scorched what it observed
It espied my small plot of history
Like Zeus in his bull-form, you charged
Usurping my ghost, you celebrated victory

As you ravaged my past
Intent on building your future
You mend the bleeding foundations
With your poisonous suture

The Palace of Dreams You Fabricate
Will be on my Tombstone
The Nightmares you’ll confront
Will be yours and yours alone

© 2021 Abhijit Chatterjee

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