quest for identity is an instinct which make human differs from other animals.
From our childhood itself, we have a tendency to seek attention and assert our
individuality. There are plenty of ways to do so, in which some of them will be
weird. Pillon riding a mode to confirm self is weird according to the rational
minds. Riding a motorbike in a heavy
speed by wearing goggles and jacket is stylish and fun to watch but dangerous
for the passer by and for the rider too. What if a generation adopt the motorcycling
lifestyle to ride their life? The 1950s and 1960s of American society and Great
Britain witnessed the same. The motorcycle subculture emerged against the
larger culture at that time beckoned so many literary persons. One among them
is the Anglo-American poet Thom Gunn (1929-2004) whose contribution to gay
literature is notable. On the Move is
his poem on motorbike gangs where he compares them with flight of birds.
main argument of the poem is that the motorbike riders who move in collective,
don’t have any purpose. They are related to birds who fly in groups, but move
according to their instinct. The blue jay, the swallows and every other bird
have in a way a hidden agenda to move whereas the motorbike gang simply rush
for nowhere. The motorist travel to the tune of their tyres. They don’t feel
any tiredness and also they never go for a shelter unlike the swallows who
perches their nest on time. Another distinguished feature of these riders is
their craze for full speed and the violent sound of motorbikes. The poet says
this is because of the uncertainty of destination. The birds who cares about
their life move in a pace. They are not in hurry. They live in harmony with
their environment. The motorists always have a rebellious nature to fight with
their provided ambience, so agitate their milieu. Meanwhile they handover their
future to fate.
criticizing the valueless life of motorcyclists being different from that of
birds, the poet cunningly parallel them too. Both motorbike gangs and birds moves
together. They hate being alone. When birds do this for fighting the wind speed
and to protect themselves from predators, the gang do the same for company.
Companionship is a necessity to all living beings. For solitude is best only
for sometimes. By forming gangs, they create a new culture for the society.
Their actions make them feel that at least they are doing something and getting
lack of purpose is according to the poem differentiate the motorcycle boys from
birds. But when closely observing the poem we get to know that the appearance
of pillion riders; the uniforms (jackets and goggles), the collective way of
life, their nonstop journey almost give them a taste of an aim. They are trying
to prove their manhood. ‘Half-animal’ is the term used by the poet to refer
those adventurous youngsters. The word itself is problematic as it explains
more. Like animals, men have instincts but more by desires and decisions.
free will men make a man, a man. Here motorist find the meaning of their life
by embracing existence. The vanity in suffering the toxicities of life and the
inevitable death is fought by the boys by designing their own lifestyle. They
adore the freedom to rule their life thus by practicing the philosophy of
existentialism.by challenging the idea of rationalism, empiricism and
positivism which find meaning and order in metaphysical principles,
existentialism emphasis on individual existence.
analyzing the poem as a battle between existentialism and rationalism, the tone
of the poem changes. Thus, the swallows, the blue jay all resemble other men
who always took the chosen path, the most accepted path. Thus the flight of
birds becomes the life of the obedient citizens whereas the motorbike gangs
simply go by the tag of being rebellious. The governable flight of birds which
acknowledges their destination or the insolent gaudy wandering of motorbike
gangs, which is better is unanswerable. The poem ends by giving a pessimistic
note to the bike boys prophesying their immediate death which elongating the confusion,
whether dying after a short span of jubilant life or live a long restricted
life is better.