I have a number of social commitments but everyone thinks only about sex in relation to my writing. A wistful desire to return to her family house and estate had been haunting her all through these itinerant years until she settled in Kerala in 1982. New Delhi, India: Intellectual Publishing House, 1995. This definition is generally applicable to the structure of “Composition”.2 The poem opens with a determinate speaker who comes face to face with the sea: Certainly the use of “I” suggests the Romantic mode. [Das]: My mother's writing did not ever generate any controversy. endobj The past is evoked in order to underscore her movement away from it. The lover is described as being pleased with her body's “usual shallow / Convulsions”. The ancestral home is described and the great grandmother is portrayed with humour and detachment. But within her moods, there is an inborn “orderliness” or a visible structure. In fact, the speaker uses a fluent vernacular: “Freedom became my dancing shoe / how well I danced, / and danced without rest”. ]Kamala Das, [New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann, Indian Writers Series, 1971.] This Study Guide consists of approximately 35 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Song of the Smoke. I couldn't have written without them. “The Metaphoric and Metonymic Poles” in Roman Jacobson and Morris Halle, Fundamentals of Language (The Hague: Mouton, 1956), p. 77. She was awarded the PEN Prize in 1964, the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for fiction in 1969, the Chaman Lal Award for Journalism in 1971, the Asian World Prize for Literature in 1985, the Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Award in 1988, and the Valayar Award and the Sahitya Parishad Award in 1998. Poems such as “Delhi 1984” and “Smoke in Colombo” evoke the massacre of the Sikhs and the civil war in Sri Lanka. The title-poem is one of Kamala's finest attempts to depict incompatible relationships. Her responses are usually spontaneous and most often dominated by emotion. Already a member? But I wanted someone to go walking with me, swimming with me, play badminton with me. In “Composition”, Kamala Das metonymically stresses the loss of her innocence due to her growth in time. It is difficult also to see how Kohli finds in “Blood” an “admirable restraint in tone and tautness of line.”5 The lines he quotes are hardly suggestive of what he describes as “the assured clarity of outline, the sombre control of nerve, and the poise of movement which is at once graceful and firm,” which he sees as showing “that the poet is in command of herself in a moment of personal reckoning.”6 I refer to the long passage which begins: Kohli in fact quotes the entire passage of 22 lines, all of which more or less follow the awkward rhythm of the ones quoted above. 25, no. [In the following essay, Kohli argues that Das's confessional poetry, with its unusual metaphors and original tone, represents a distinctly Indian voice that bows neither to the English modernists nor to Indian transcendentalist philosophy.]. It is unpunctuated, intentionally so, for even capital letters are omitted. Word Count: 7977. Although born a Nayar, that is, into a matrilinear and matriarchal community, she fell under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi whose background was unashamedly patriarchal. It uses a fluent vernacular which sometimes rises to a formal speech. He thought my love was Sri Krishna. There are disabilities, but no frustrations. This discipline would, hopefully, make the break easier when it becomes necessary. There is another poem—“The Anamalai Hills”—closely related to the sequence but which the poet has placed at the end of the section preceding Anamalai Poems in The Best of Kamala Das. One seeks in love the completion of one's own personality: The poem is addressed presumably to the husband, and protests against the constraint of the married life: the fever of domesticity, the routine of lust, artificial comfort, and male domination. She was publishing short stories in Malayalam, her mother tongue, before she brought out Summer in Calcutta, her first volume of poems in English, in 1965. In “Sunset, Blue Bird”, the poet has in turn been deserted by “the king”. Nigam, Alka. We were friends. Besides these poems with Nalapat house and the grandmother as their central symbols, there are a few others in which delicate domestic sentiments are evoked. To say this is not simply to point out the element of realism in her portrayal of her moods, but to underline her approach to experience which makes such a realism, if that is the right word for the borderline between the beauty of sexual love and that of spiritual love, possible. Kohli has already listed the 20 poems which had appeared in the earlier volumes. But I think of culture as a river. Word Count: 147, Tonight, This Savage Rite: The Love Poems of Kamala Das and Pritish Nandy 1979, Kamala Das: A Selection, with Essays on Her Work [edited by S. C. Harrex and Vincent O’Sullivan] 1986, Only the Soul Knows How to Sing: Selections from Kamala Das 1996, Tharisunilam [Fallow Fields] (short stories) 1962, Premathinte vilapa kavyam [Requiem for a Love] (short stories) 1971, Draksakshi Panna [Eyewitness] (juvenilia) 1973, A Doll for the Child Prostitute (short stories) 1977, Kamala Das: A Collage (plays) [edited by Arun Kuckreja] 1984, Padamavati, the Harlot and Other Stories (short stories) 1994, The Sandal Trees and Other Stories (short stories) [translated by V. C. Harris and Mohamed Ummer] 1995, Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. T. Vasudevan Nair who makes all the women cry. This seems to be a reference to the speaker's myth-making powers, a faculty that allows her to escape from the prison-house of the self: In spite of this visible attempt on the part of the self to reach out to the other, the sense of Anamalai Poems as a record of the poet's obsessive celebration of the self prevails. What was the reaction to Summer in Calcutta, your first book in English? If I had remained in Nalapat House I would have remained powerful. Word Count: 2103. The upshot of the above analysis is that, notwithstanding the apparent posture of self-absorption in the text of Anamalai Poems, there is a historical subtext at work in the series that resists its assimilation to a voice of pure interiority. There is very little to the poem apart from this personal giveaway detail which indicates that the man was more than a stranger. My husband was not interested in these things. In spite of this, she has been intensely attached to him and was able to feel hurt when he was hurt. In 1984, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the World Academy of Arts and Culture, Taiwan. [In the following essay, Raveendran examines how Das's later, more political poems, embody tension between the timelessness of the landscape and the minutiae of human history. Kerala, India: DC Books, 1996. It would be a mistake to assume that the mood in this third volume is consistently morose or that it lacks the frenzy of Kamala's earlier poems of passion. My Story uses it repeatedly or, at any rate, obtrusively assumes the reader's awareness of it. In their introduction to Psyche: The Feminine Poetic Consciousness (New York 1973) Barbara Segnitz and Carol Rainey point out that a ‘conflict between passivity and rebellion against the male-oriented universe’ is one of the themes that preoccupies some of these women poets. Everything has to be political to get an award here. It is easy, also, to identify the presence of guilt in Kamala as a diatribe against her husband. ix-xvii. The creaking rafters of the old house haunt her during the still nights in every town she lives in. But although her answers to gender problems do not coincide with the standard answers of feminist activists, a strong feminist self-consciousness runs through all her writings. 29-40. All the griefs come to roost here. Lal, P. “Kamala Das.” In Perspectives on Kamala Das's Poetry, pp. Kamala Das is at her best as a poet of private sensibility. This emotion seems to be a subjective emotion, but it is not so. Are there any other Malayali women writers who were outspoken? At another metaphoric level, the lines are also full of a tragic irony. Anne Ranasinghe, born on October 2, 1925 as Anneliese Katz in Essen, Germany, is an internationally renowned poet from Sri Lanka. Written against the backdrop of the carnage against the members of the Sikh community in India following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, “Delhi 1984” also contains a reference to “home” in its fourth line: But this is no interior journey. However, sometimes this vernacular rises to a formal speech: “I must let my mind striptease / I must extrude / autobiography”. The Anamalai Poems celebrate the self in the tradition of the classical Tamil akam (“interior”) poems.6 What is laid bare in each of the poems in the sequence is an interior landscape far removed from the world of mundane reality. I've tried translating Malayalam poetry. Word Count: 3113. Jaipur: Rawat Publications, 1996, 316p. The victim's story is told by his lover, the “poetess … who loves him / Without rhyme or reason”, and who “now turns her face away” because she cannot bear to see what his downfall has done to him. Learn how to write a poem about Smog and share it! Others see me as a feminist. Even in the essays written in English in the 1970s, such as “Only Those Above 55, Obsessed with Sex”, “Why Not More Than One Husband?” and “I Studied All Men”, she had explored the problem of her position as a woman and a writer in post-colonial India. [Kohli, Davindara. Comparison of Das's poems with her autobiography. Explores Das's place in the tradition of confessional poetry, comparing her work with that of such poets as Robert Lowell. In the aftermath of the illness, which had left her emaciated, the blood “Weakened too much to lust”, the lover's devotion creates a sense of security. Then I realized that one poem can be interpreted in many ways. Colombo John Robert poet from Canada was born on March 24, 1936 has 84 years. Inasmuch as the seemingly unchanging hills of Anamalai constitute an escape from the ever-changing world of politics in the wake of her debâcle at the polls, these poems can be regarded as embodying the ahistorical other of what politics implies. In this poem the poet has expressed a freedom fighter as the speaker. The poet tells her lover that she did not go to him out of mere desire for another man but because she wanted to find herself. It has given her an individuality, a gusto, a courage, and above all poetry, although deep down there are also the dark whispers of mortality, intimations of the truth that ‘our loneliness is eternal’ and that ‘We are born with great hollows that need to be filled, for us to feel to complete.’ This does not however make her look for comfort in philosophy, or find protection in a falsified image of life like Denise Levertov's hypocrite women because, Courage and honesty are the strength of Kamala Das's character and her poetry; and the courage lies in not only being able to admit that one has aged, when one has, but in also being able to assert in the fact of it that in the final analysis one has no regrets and that one has lived beautifully in this beautiful world, and that one can. She has published one major novel, several novelettes and volumes of short stories in Malayalam, under the pen-name Madhavikutty. Geok-Lin Lim. I come from a house of virtue. There are moments, as revealed in My Story when she was even exhilarated in his company and felt uneasy and crestfallen when he was away. Similarly, while the great-grandmother addresses the poet and her brother, it is the poet who responds to this sense of family honour. People trust me here. It is interesting that of the thirteen new poems in her third volume, The Old Playhouse and Other Poems (Madras, Orient Longman, 1973), which reprints twenty poems from the previous two volumes, the poems which stand out are the ones which are more sharply concerned with the question of a woman's identity, with an added difference that this woman persona is also conscious of her ageing and decaying body. The outbreak of communal hatred had affected the lives of those around her. And of course abroad your name is synonymous with Indian writing in English. That Kamala Das has chosen to write these poems in the language of the erstwhile coloniser complicates the matter.13 The fact is that Kamala Das's poetry cannot, in contemporary circumstances, escape a feminist reading and a postcolonial reading, and this is yet another way of talking about the historicity of these texts. I should never have taken off my heavy jewellery and the white muslins. 2 (1985): 307-12. As I said earlier, even the talk of escape does not really carry with it much more than the realisation, lightly stated, that the relationship will have to end one day. The first of the poem's three parts deals with conflicts arising out of this memory of another love. I'm not a physical person. The poem “ No Smoke from the Chimneys ” is written by famous Nepali poet Siddhicharan Shrestha (1912 – 1992) and translated by Michael Hutt into English . I'm not political. This state of mind is also apparent in Kamala's autobiography, especially in her account of her last meaningful relationship with a man. As suggested earlier, there is a muted identification of the hills with the poet's subjective self in all the poems in the series. “Composition” is a realistic poem, for it meets all the three conditions. While this self-consciousness may not always be obvious in the poetry, it is quite conspicuous in her prose-narratives. They mirror the actual reality of the poet's life. Even so, you write with great freedom, and without the protection of irony. Its theme is the tragic suicide of a young, pregnant, unmarried maid who was seduced and betrayed. Kamala Das's obsession with the self, which has been described elsewhere as “the ideology of intimacy”, has grave historical and political implications.8 One of the recurring paradoxes of the Anamalai Poems, indeed of much of Kamala Das's poetry, is that each of its inward movements toward an isolated self covers an intricate path, ultimately becoming a movement in the direction of a larger reality. Although my mother wrote incessantly of her happy marriage, I heard her quarrel with my father every night. And it is the common pattern of human intercourse, where truth is evaded, especially if it is unpleasant. The primary source of her emotional sustenance has been her attachment to the members of the family—the grandmother, mother, father and children. Kamala's occasional feel for images is also apparent in the way the housewife in the bus queue is depicted: “The one from whose shopping the mean potato must / Roll across the road”. 22, no. The structure of the poem, it may be said, imitates the structure of the speaker's contemplation as she struggles towards self-understanding. In this poem the poet has expressed a freedom fighter as the speaker. Although the freedom which she has acquired is a Janusfaced gift, it is valuable. The death of the house need not be interpreted literally in terms of its physical decay. I yearned to wear coloured silks and jewellery. The true interest of the poem does not lie in any memorable insights, images or phrases, but in the anguish of the woman at being abandoned by her lover. The ordering of these poems in The Best of Kamala Das is slightly different from the order in Indian Literature. 2 And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,. Sex is a messy job but if you have to produce children you have to go through it. I quote the poem in full: In spite of the unusual simile “mongrel” to denote her love, the rest of the poem is slight beyond redemption, very amateurish, and more like an exercise in poetry than the real thing. Another unsatisfactory short poem is the one dedicated to “Kumar Gandharva”. Though she has the modern Indian woman's ambivalence, her consciousness is firmly yoked to the world around her, a world characterised by ecstasy and pain, love and despair. Uma, Alladi. I was thrilled to find it. Internationally, the tone that is appreciated is a casual tone, even if one is speaking about death. Kamala was in Calcutta during the years of Partition. The king's messenger is represented by the telephone, which stays silent except for a wrong number. There's the freedom to reinvent oneself too, isn't there? 113-21. The speaker clearly says that her “growth” is tragic because it forces her to replace “love with guilt”: There is a colloquy between the speaker and her husband. She has been one of them all through her life since she left her grandmother. Why blame me for being happy? The resurgence of her old spirit, ironically, heralds the inevitable resistance to his sapping influence. Some of Kamala Das's poems will no doubt find a natural and honourable place in any future international anthology of contemporary women poets. If they do nothing to my skin I don't touch them. You say you are not political. Romantic poetry, thus, moves in a circle from present to past and back to the present, imitating the structure of the speaker's thought. ©2021 eNotes.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. That momentary picture of civilised comfort is rapidly substituted by more discordant dreams. The emotions which motivate such abandon are partially explained in “The Corridors”, which had also appeared in Summer in Calcutta. The literature is so muddied. In the second stanza, he addresses to the lady that he does not have time for love so he requests her not to stop his advancing feet. Examines Das's work in the context of a feminist confessional tradition. In 1984 I campaigned for a month. There is evocation of Nair ethos in the first two lines of the poem. “The Swamp” ostensibly takes its name from the swamp in Malabar into which the poet tells us she once sank with a wail one hot morning during the rains. She is essentially conventional in her mental makeup and her outbursts are always restrained by the age-old sober proprieties of her Nair lineage. “Terms of Empowerment in Kamala Das's My Story.” De/Colonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender in Women's Autobiography, edited by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, pp. 2 0 obj So does her absorption in the lover even though the affair is over: “everywhere i look i see him everywhere … i do not look i see him i see him in all i see him in everything like a blue bird at sunset he flits across my sky. This “longing for community” is the invisible text of the Anamalai Poems, and is worked into the paradigmatic stratum of the poetic experience. If the woman is unfaithful the husband's boat will sink. She knows that rats and termites now make their home there, and the knowledge makes her uneasy: “I have let you down / Old house, I seek forgiveness …”.