Kamala Das is pre-eminently a confessional poem and , in this respect , she may be regarded as an outstanding Indo-Anglian poet . A confessional poet is one who takes the reader into confidence about his or her personal and private life , and reveals those facts of her life which an ordinary person , even if that person be a poet , would keep strictly to himself or herself because of the delicate nature of those facts. A confessional poet has shed all his or her inhibitions and to write frankly , candidly ,and in an outspoken manner , thus defying the restrictions and restraints which the social code and the conventions of society impose upon him or her .
Stripteasing Her Mind , and Exuding Autobiography
Kamala Das has a lot to confess in her poetry , and she does so in the most candid manner conceivable . Indeed, her poetry has no precedent so far as her frankness and candour in revealing herself to the readers are concerned . She has expressed her intense desire to confess in a very graphic manner by saying that she must “striptease” her mind and that she must exude autobiography .Her confessions pertain to her poetry is a confession of her relationship with her husband , and of her extra-marital sexual relationship .The themes of must of her poems are live or lust , and marriage relationships. The themes of most of her poems are love or lust, and marriage . In dealing with these themes , she hides nothing , and in dealing with this subject matter , she makes use of language freely , without any scruples, and even unabashedly . The orthodox reader would even accuse her of being immodest, shameless, or brazen in her use of the language through which she lays dare the secrets of her private life . Her poetty is the poetry of introspection, of self-analysis, of self-explanation, and of sel-revelation.
Her Confession in the Poem Entitled ThevFreaks
In the poem The Freaks , Kamala Das describes a sexual experience and the feeling which accompanied it. Her feelings , as she lay in bed with a man , were ambivalent. She did experience the gratification of her sexual desire at the time but she felt disappointed by the lack of any love or affection for her in his heart . She felt his fingers moving upon her body nimbly enough but not with the kind of urgency and passion which would arouse in her a yearning for an emotional union with him in addition to desiring the gratification of her lust. This poem clearly shows her frankness in dealing with the subject of sex. She is so frank here as to call herself a freak and to confess that subject of sex. She is so frank here as to call herself a freak and to confess that , in order to save her face, she flaunts at times, a grand ,flamboyant lust.
The Confession in the Poem Entitled The Sunshine Cat
That there is a poem entitled 'The Sunshine' cat which she complains about the pain and the suffering which , first her husband , and then the many other mn with whom she had a sexual experience , caused to her . She accuses her husband of having been a selfish and cowardly man who neither loved her nor used her properly but who was a ruthless watcher of her sexul act with other men . She had tried her utmost to please her sexual partners by clinging to their hairy chests , but they all told her that they could only gratify her sexual desire but could not love her . The consequence was that she lay in bed sexual desire but could not love her.
The Poem Entitled The Invitation
In the poem entitled The Invitation, Kamala Das recalls that her lover., presumably her husband , used to perform the sezual act with in a casual manner , coming to her in the intervals of his office-work , and then going away.She did feel a certain pleasure during her sexual act with that man so that the bed , six feel long and two feet wide , seemed to have become a paradise forshe relt like committing suicide by jumping into the sea which seemed to be inviting her to enter its waters and perish.
Her Observation in The Looking –Glass, Also Based on Her PERSONAL Experiences
The poem called 'The Lookind-Glass' is even more candid in its use of the Kamala Das urges women not to feel shy or timid when they are about to perform the their lovers’ nude and muscular bodies, before a mirror, and look at their reflection. She urges them to let their lovers know what they (the women) expect from them (their lover) when they lie in bed together .She also urges women to give to men all that makes them women ; to let them smell their long hair to smell the musk of sweat between their breasts, to let them experience the warm shock of their menstrual blood , and to let them know their endless female hungers . If a women does all these things she would have no difficulty in winning her lover though , when the lover is gone and has no intention to come back, the women would feel desolate and find it act which that man had provided. Kamala Das’s treatment of the subject of sex is, indeed, astonishing and her observations in this respect are undoubtedly based upon her own sexual experiences with men.
The Miserable Conjugal Life , Described in Most Explicit Terms
The poem entitled The Old Playhouse is most remarkable so far as its confessionl quality is concerned . Here Kamala Das describes , in unusually frank terms, the kind of life which she had been leading with her husband .This poem describes, metaphorically, Kamala Das’s feeling of suffocation in her husband’s home as a consequence of her husband’s selfishness , self-centredness, egoism, and exaggerated sense of his own importance . Kamala Das’s narrow life of domesticity with her husband, and her husband’s unemotional manner of performing the sexual act with her , her driven her to desperation and had made her feel that her mind was like an old theatre hall which was no longer in use and all the light of which had been put out . Then she expresses her resolve to liberate herself from this kind of slavery to her husband . No ordinary women would describe her unhappy conjugal life in such explicit terms as Kamala Das has done in this poem.
Her Candour in the Poems Composition and Substitute
In one of her poems, namely, Composition, Kamala Das gone to the extent of using the words pubis and pubic hair;and, in another poem, namely Substitute, she has described her anarchic sexual life in the following memorable manner;
After that love became a swivel-door.
When one went out , another came in.
Here is a confession without any reservation and without any hesitation either .
A Feminist in Her Confessional Poems
Kamala Das as a confessional poet has rendered some valuable service to the female sex making them conscious of their dormant sexual desires and their suppressed discontent with their husbands from the sexual point of view . She has thus given a sort of incentive to women to assert themselves or at least not to suppress themselves. In these confessional poems Kamala Das appears as a feminist , indirectly advocating the liberation of women from the coventional social restraints and taboos.
Two Confessional Poems Expressing Her Feeling as a Mother
Two of Kamala Das poems contain her feeling as a mother . The poem entitled Jaisurya expresses her feeling of exultation when she in going to give birth to a child and her feeling of pride when the chind coes out of the darkness of her womb into this bright world lit by sunlight . During the child-birth, Kamala Das felt that to her at that time neither love was important nor lust , and that the man or men , who had been betraying her by gratifying their lust and then forsaking her, did not matter to her at all . She found child-birth to be a glorious phenomenon. The other poem about her motherhood has the title of The White Flowers.
The Therapeutic and Cathartic Effect of Her Confessional Poetry
Kamala Das’s confessional poetry, like most confessional poetry written by Nissim Ezekiel, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath, has a therapeutic and catharic effect on the readers as well s on the writer herself. Confessional poetry is written by a poet under an internal pressure in order to give vent to his or her grievances or feeling of resentmentor a sense of the injustice experienced by him or her. By confessing what a poet has undergone, he or she is able to obtain some relief; and such poetry naturally brings some relief to the reader as well by making him feel that his own sense of injustice should count for noting when compared to the more acute and more painful sense of injustice of persons much more important and much more talented then he . After all , catharsis only means the feeling of relief which a person experiences After witnessing the spectacle of feeling of relief which a person experiences after witnessing the spectacle of other suffering from the effects of the stress of circumstances or of misfortunes or from a sense of guilt. All confessional art, says a critic* is a means of killing the beasts which are within us, those dreadful dragons of dreams and experiences that must be hunted down, cornered , and exposed in order to be destroyed . And the poetry of Kamala Das certainly tends to kill such beasts in herself and, incidentally, similar beasts in us. According to another critic, Kamala Das’s poetry is replete with a powerful force of catharsis and protest . This is so, says this critic ,because of Kamala Das’s intensely confessional quality and her ultra-subjective treatment .Kamala Das raises her confessional traits to the level of a specific universal appeal.The struggle of her self ultimately becomes the struggle of all mankind, and herein lies her forte (or her special power),matter to achieve some sort of victory over pain and defeat. Poems of this kind are glosses on the triumph of life. Because of the absolute confessions made by a group of poets in their poetry, particularly in America (such poets as Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and John Berryman ) they have raised themselves to a level know as confessional poets , and Kamal Das’s place is certainly secure in the ranks of these poets. Even suicide is a subject they are ready to confess. In one of his poems, John Berryman appears to ponder over, and mastermind , his suicide; “It all centred in the end on the suicide/In which I am an expert, deep and wide.” In the same nein, Sylvia Plath writes in a famous poem;” Dying/Is an art, like everything, is clearly contemplation suicide as a means of escape from the frustration, is clearly contemplating suicide as means of escape from the frustration of life.Kamala Das’s poetry hs a cathartic effect because, the more poignant her confessional tone is, in poems like The Sunshine Cat and My Grandmother’s House, the greater is the cathartic effect.