TWI Poetry #Metoo #Rights#VoicesinPoetry

 

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(Picture borrowed from the Internet)

Violence against women or episodes of misbehaviour and assault are not new or recent. Though many of them are now coming out of their own shadows against the guilty, there have been several of them who have used their voice and words as expression.

Here are a few poems opening up perspectives like an old wound that have existed for a long time. Long since the evolution of mankind, perhaps!? It is a wound that remains sore till date in the growing wake of emancipation and liberation. But then, there were voices and they are going to be many more and such voices need not always be a victim, though we all have been, actively and passively, in one way or the other. Right to equality is not about ranting constitutional definitions or seeking to bring the scale to balance every time but seek a few of them in ab solute terms. Dignity is certainly a priority.

With these poems we unearth the fossil of this ember.

Caprice by Sarojini Nadu

The Nightingale of India layers the unspoken in this poem.

 

You held a wild flower in your fingertips, 

Idly you pressed it to indifferent lips, 

Idly you tore its crimson leaves apart 

Alas! it was my heart. 


You held a wine-cup in your fingertips, 

Lightly you raised it to indifferent lips, 

Lightly you drank and flung away the bowl … 

Alas! it was my soul.

 

The Looking Glass by Kamala Das

Getting a man to love you is easy

Only be honest about your wants as

Woman. Stand nude before the glass with him

So that he sees himself the stronger one

And believes it so, and you so much more

Softer, younger, lovelier. Admit your

Admiration. Notice the perfection

Of his limbs, his eyes reddening under

The shower, the shy walk across the bathroom floor,

Dropping towels, and the jerky way he

Urinates. All the fond details that make

Him male and your only man. Gift him all,

Gift him what makes you woman, the scent of

Long hair, the musk of sweat between the breasts,

The warm shock of menstrual blood, and all your

Endless female hungers. Oh yes, getting

A man to love is easy, but living

Without him afterwards may have to be

Faced. A living without life when you move

Around, meeting strangers, with your eyes that

Gave up their search, with ears that hear only

His last voice calling out your name and your

Body which once under his touch had gleamed

Like burnished brass, now drab and destitute. 

 

Kamala Das’s poems are known to be outspoken, much ahead of her times and relevant even today. A contemporary poet of her times, she was often ridiculed and judged by her works that spoke of her audacity while exemplifying a woman’s desires and choices.

A poet friend of mine once mentioned that when a woman writes about sex and physical desires, she is assumed to be writing from her own experiences and many do not hesitate in questioning her ‘experiences’. But this does not hold good for a man.

Sadly, nothing much seems to have changed from the times of Kamala Das.

 

Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath

bears a sarcastic tone on the bigotry that has been neutral to economies, civilizations and development. It stems solely from the attitude of the twin creations – man and woman.

 

I have done it again.   

One year in every ten   

I manage it——

 

A sort of walking miracle, my skin   

Bright as a Nazi lampshade,   

My right foot

 

A paperweight,

My face a featureless, fine   

Jew linen.

 

Peel off the napkin   

O my enemy.   

Do I terrify?——

 

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?   

The sour breath

Will vanish in a day.

 

Soon, soon the flesh

The grave cave ate will be   

At home on me

 

And I a smiling woman.   

I am only thirty.

And like the cat I have nine times to die.

 

This is Number Three.   

What a trash

To annihilate each decade.

 

What a million filaments.   

The peanut-crunching crowd   

Shoves in to see

 

Them unwrap me hand and foot——

The big strip tease.   

Gentlemen, ladies

 

These are my hands   

My knees.

I may be skin and bone,

 

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.   

The first time it happened I was ten.   

It was an accident.

 

The second time I meant

To last it out and not come back at all.   

I rocked shut

 

As a seashell.

They had to call and call

And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

 

Dying

Is an art, like everything else.   

I do it exceptionally well.

 

I do it so it feels like hell.   

I do it so it feels real.

I guess you could say I’ve a call.

 

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.

It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.   

It’s the theatrical

 

Comeback in broad day

To the same place, the same face, the same brute   

Amused shout:

 

‘A miracle!’

That knocks me out.   

There is a charge

 

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge   

For the hearing of my heart——

It really goes.

 

And there is a charge, a very large charge   

For a word or a touch   

Or a bit of blood

 

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.   

So, so, Herr Doktor.   

So, Herr Enemy.

 

I am your opus,

I am your valuable,   

The pure gold baby

 

That melts to a shriek.   

I turn and burn.

Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

 

Ash, ash—

You poke and stir.

Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——

 

A cake of soap,   

A wedding ring,   

A gold filling.

 

Herr God, Herr Lucifer   

Beware

Beware.

 

Out of the ash

I rise with my red hair   

And I eat men like air.

 

In the next series we explore more poems and voices by contemporary poets of today.

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