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Scholarly Article

Safi Ullah

‘Ode on the Lungi’: Kaiser Haq’s Portrayal of “the Subaltern Speaking”

subaltern, orientalism, cultural consciousness, post-colonialism, feminism


Ode on the Lungi is the highly studied and mostly appreciated poem of Kaiser Haq, the most eminent Bangladeshi poet writing in English. He considers Lungi, “ethnic attire,” as the symbol of subaltern and gives them voice to speak aloud their sufferings and the democratic hypocrisy they undergo. Gayatri Chakravarti Spivak suspects about whether the subaltern can speak or not and Arudhati Roy comments that the subaltern either cannot speak or we carefully and consciously neglect their speaking. What we get reading the poem is that Kaiser Haq challenges these comments of Spivak and Roy and cultural consciousness, as Franz Fanon defines the concept of national consciousness. Ode on the Lungi will be interpreted here in the light of the concept of subaltern and their urge for democratic equal rights. This paper is concerned with how Kaiser Haq blends the subaltern and their carefully unheard voices to the world and world people and questions the Father of American democracy about the validity and utility of democratic ideal regarding cloths referring to sartorial equality. This paper will also unearth the cultural and political differences between the East and the West as Haq shows using the kilt and lungi. In short, the prime concern of the paper is to analyze the voicing of the subaltern, especially Asian and more specifically Bangladeshi subaltern including women as employed in Ode on the Lungi.

About the Author

Safi Ullah, a Postgraduate from University of Dhaka, teaches English Literature at Z. H. Sikder University of Science & Technology, Shariatpur, Bangladesh. He may be contacted at

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