Confessional Mode in Poetry of Kamala Das
Confessional mode of writing has its virtual origin in the imides in America. It is hybrid mode of poetry which meaner objective, analytical or even clinical observation of incidents from one’s own life. Confessional poems are intensely personal and highly subjective. There is no ‘persona’ in the poems. ‘l’ in the poems is the poet and nobody else. The themes are nakedly embarrassing and focus too exclusively upon the pain, anguish and ugliness of life at the expense of its pleasure and beauty. Confessional poets did not follow any tradition nor respected any conventions.
They wanted to be unique and not a part of the conventional social set up. This conflict with society leads them to introspection. In the course, comes a breaking point when they could not compromise with themselves. They lose themselves helplessly in the battle and start searching for the lost self. This conflict has given birth to a number of beautiful poems. The sensitive poem cannot take failure for granted. At this Juncture, life becomes unbearable and the call of death becomes irresistible. They are more than convinced that death can offer them more solace than life.
Born on March 31, 1934 Kamala Dads was major Indian English poet and at the same time a leading Malaysia author from Kraal, India. At the age of 15 she got married to bank officer Madhya Dads, who encouraged her writing interests, and she started writing and publishing both in English and Malaysia. She was born in a conservative Hindu Nair family having royal ancestry but she embraced Islam in 1999 at age of 65 and assumed the name Kamala Surreys. On 31 May 2009, gagged, she died at a hospital in Pun, but has earned considerable respect in recent years.
The ‘confessional’ poet does not accept restrictions on subject matter, though they re usually personal. He may write as freely about his hernia as about his sweet heart. Anything within his private experience may form his theme. He takes the help of an open language for an uninhibited expression of his emotions, and by ‘open language’ is meant free verse or blank verse, as opposed to rhymed verse. It does not suggest, however, that the ‘confessional’ poets are wild in their emotional outbursts. Personal failure as well as mental illness is his favorite theme.
Keeping in mind the above specifications about ‘confessional’ poetry and poets, it would be not wrong to heartier Kamala Dads as a ‘confessional’ poet in the true sense of the term. She is the most prominent confessional Indian English poet of our time. In the confessional poets, the subjective element has become the chief characteristic of their poetry, and Kamala Dads is no exception. Her poetry has a strong note of subjectivism. B. K Dads says that “Like Sylvia Plate, Kamala Dad’s interests in the various places is very much personal and subjective.
Most of her poems in the collections Summer in Calcutta, The Descendants and The Old Playhouse and other poems are confessional in tone ND subjective state” (Comparative Literature 109). She writes in the mode and pattern of several ‘new American poets like Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plate, W. D Snodgrass, John Ferryman and Theodore Rewrote. She has chosen poetry as her genre to express her intense feeling, as it gives her a lot of scope. She started writing her life story to distract her mind and to recover herself from illness.
Confessional confession; by peeling off layers of pretence they try to regain lost values. Dad’s urge to peel the layers of herself to reveal the terrors, pain, miseries, frustrations and exactions is obvious here. She realizes that an understanding of the true self is possible only by doing away with the pretensions and superficiality that human beings are usually surrounded by. Whatever she has disclosed about herself does not carry any sense of guilt or shame. Disclosure makes her feel easy. She doesn’t like to hide anything.
She would like to disclose all her secret thoughts and feelings. She shares everything with her readers, good and bad, about her life with all the secrets that should not be openly expressed in her society. She chooses to confess everything by writing rather than going to a priest. She has to create a place for herself in a public world, in her home and even in her own bedroom. Kamala Dad’s shocking confession about the theme of love has startled equally the critics and the laymen. Some of her confessions about various love episodes have shocked the readers.
It is stranger because such kind of poetry is coming from a traditional Indian woman who is mostly considered to be shy, silent and introvert. Her search for independence in sex and other subjects is exceptional in the tradition of Indian rating in English whether written by women or men. Her confessional poetry is an attempt to end the war between passion and reason, flash and spirit, body and soul. Nostalgia for childhood is one of the characteristic qualities of confessional poetry. As confessional poet, Kamala Dads has drawn vivid pictures of their childhood in her poems.
She can be termed as child prodigy. She was barely six, when she started writing her poetry. She wrote tragic poems about her dolls that lost their heads and limbs. Each of her poems about her dolls made her cry. Failure in love as a theme is ore powerful in the poems of confessional poets, than its consummation. She is unhappy about her marriage. She appeared to be a puppet, the strings of which being held firmly by her parent she wasn’t given a free choice to select an ideal lover. Her preference was not considered by her parent’s.
Dads expresses: “l was burden and a responsibility neither my parent’s nor my grandmother could put up with for long. Therefore with the blessing of all, our marriage was fixed”. (My Story 82) Kamala Dads has thus, a strong grievance against her husband’s infidelity and lust. He knows only he physical kind of love, without trying to make any emotional and spiritual contact with her. She mentions in My Story ” Before I left for Calcutta, my relative (her future husband) pushed me into a dark corner behind a door and kissed me sloppily near my mouth.
He crushed my breasts with his thick fingers. I felt hurt and humiliated. All I said was a good bye”. (Dads 82) Dads has given graphic accounts of her relations with her husband before their marriage. It is clear that she admired him but we do not find glimpses of her love and affection for her hubby as a man or as a lover. In My Story she has expressed her romantic ideas of an ideal lover. She writes: I had expected him to take me in his arms and stroke my face, my hair, my hands and whisper loving words. I had expected him to be all that I wanted my father to be and my mother.
I wanted conversation, companionship and warmth. Sex was far from my thoughts. I had hoped that he would remove with one sweep of his benign arms, the loneliness of my life. (Dads 84) She enters into marriage with her beautiful romantic ideals but her dreams were shattered when she finds herself in a loveless throughout her poetry. The kisses of her husband on her cheeks are like maggots rolling over the corpse. She was sick of love which was Just skin-deep. Again and again she raises her voice against his physical love. She says thus . What is? The use, what is the bloody use?
That was the only kind of love, This hacking at each other’s part Like convicts hacking, breaking clods At noon (Convicts) Her marriage with a man much older to her creates an aversion. His demanding nature made her frigid. An Introduction is Kamala Dad’s most famous poem in confessional mode. It is an autobiographical poem, deals with feminine sensibility. The obsession with love is one of the prominent features of her poetry. The failure to arrive at its highest point leaves her wounded. Her early marriage seems to have given a rude Jolt to her sensibility as woman.
Following lines from poem An Introduction reveal this fact. I was child, and later they Told me I grew, for I became tall, my limbs Swelled and one or two places sprouted hair. When I asked for love, not knowing what else to ask For, he drew a youth of sixteen into the Bedroom and closed the door, He did not beat me But my sad woman-body felt so beaten. (Dads) She was a rebel and does to make any attempts to hide it. She looks everywhere for love but she gets it only in her dreams. She writes, in her usual frank open-mindedness, about married life or man-woman relationship in many of her poems.
She frequently complains about man’s callousness and wantonness and woman’s suffering on that count. This sort of openness and frankness is hardly to be found in any other Indo-English woman poet. Her confessional poetry is obsessively mulling over love and ‘body’s wisdom’ like Whitman that is why lounger calls her a “Femme Fatal” whose poetry is of pelvic region. In her poetry, love appears in several roles such as skin communicated thing, as overpowering force, as escape, a longing and a hunger resulting in satiety. Her confessional poems show that she is ‘every woman who seeks love’.
She is the the beloved and the betrayed’, expressing her ‘endless female hunger’, the muted whisper at the core of womanhood’. She is a confessional poet, whose poems are compared with Robert Lowell, Sexton, and Sylvia Plate etc. Although a confessional poet-that kamala Dads is-can make use of any subject for his treatment, he mostly confines himself to the region of his own experience. By so doing he becomes very frank and honest, close and intimate, in his details. That’s why ‘confessional’ poetry sounds so appealing and so convincing.
It frequently takes resort to personal failures and mental illnesses of its composer, and Kamala verse is a brilliant illustration of it. Poet’s failure in love is displayed in them. The poem The Bats brings out Mrs.. Dad’s sense of sorrow and exhaustion in striking manner. All her poetry is an expression of her private experiences in matters of love and sex. Her quest for true love lands in disasters of love. It operates from the level of personal and the reticular rather than from that of the general and universal. The poem The Freaks no true love: It’s only To save my face, I flaunt, at Times, a grand, flamboyant lust. Dads) Kamala Dads makes a hectic search for true love in her poetry, and her personal predicament gets reflected in it. She is a poetess of love and sex and of the body. For woman, a partner is essential in sex-drama, Just as she is essential for her husband in a life of real enjoyment. In Kamala Dad’s poetry one comes across the intensity of passions which renders words irrelevant for articulation. Obviously silence and not words is the true language of love and she lays stress on the role of silence as a dramatic device in a poem charged with pulse and power. In Convicts words are submerged in the dark of passions and the music of silence.
Confessional poetry is basically the end product, and unconscious act of creation and one can feel upon our pulses, as personality and emotions, the two dragons of Classicists, constitute its essential core. Kamala Dads incorporate subsequently both the forms. Many of her poems are about warmth of her childhood and the family home in Kraal. Her poems always portrait powerful feminist images, focusing on critiques of marriage, motherhood, women’s relationship to their bodies and power over their sexuality, and roles women are offered in traditional Indian society.
Through her confessional poetry she expresses her humiliations. Her poems are her quest identity in traditional society. Then the woman in Kamala Dads is struggling between passion and tradition. She wants to break the chains around her and wants to be free. In India divorce is not a common feature. A lot of stigma is attached to a divorced woman. Dads too is very much tethered about public opinion she sticks to her marriage while suffering within. She was not educated enough to get a good Job and live independently. Furthermore, as a mother of three kids she had to give a second thought to the matter of divorce.
The reasons she gives for not getting a divorce are noteworthy. Dads observes: My parent’s and other relatives were obsessed with public opinion and bothered excessively with our society reaction to any action of an individual. A broken marriage was as distasteful, as horrifying as an attack of leprosy. If I had at that time listened to the estates of my conscience and had left my husband, I would have found it impossible to marry me, for I was not conspicuously pretty and besides there was the two-year- old who would have been to the new husband an encumbrance. My Story 102) She does not want to be domesticated because her real self will be vanished. Thus dissatisfied in married life, the woman is unconsciously drawn towards illicit relationship in search of pure and true love. The poem Glass states clearly that finding no emotional identity or satisfaction with her husband, she is driven into others’ arms: I entire other’s Lives, and Make of every trap of lust A temporary home (Dads) Behind the back of her husband, Dads discovers her own ways of finding love. She goes to her secret rendezvous and tries to find love outside marriage.
Her pursuit of love has driven her to the doors of strangers to receive love at least in the form of ‘a tip’. In My Grandmother’s House, the following lines click: . I who have lost Receive love, at least in small change? (Dads) Consequently, her failure pure love degenerates into unwanted lust and her emotional urges remain unfulfilled. Every time she finds face of repulsion and horror. Each relationship only intensifies her disappointment faced with the sense of absolute frustration and loneliness. Her poetry is all about herself, about her desires for love, her emotional involvement and her failure to achieve such a relationship.
Like a confessional poet she has written poems on decay, disease and death. At various occasions, death seems an easy escape for Kamala Dads from the loneliness of life. O sea, I am fed up I went to be simple I want to be loved And If love is not to be had, I want to be dead, Just dead…. (The Suicide) She was haunted by he idea of suicide because death seems like a mystical experience which she finds desirable because life is not going to be made new. She considers death a reward for all her pains in surviving upon the earth.
A. N Divvied says “In An Introduction she mentions that she will have no escape from her pitiless husband and that she will find her rest, her sleep, her peace, and even her death only in his arms”(Kamala Dads and her Poetry 47)., Dad’s autobiography gives ample evidence to her idea of death by water, drowning oneself in the sea. The relevant passage reads thus; Often I have dyed with the idea of drowning myself to be rid of my loneliness which is not unique in any way, but is natural to all. I have wanted to find rest in the sea and an escape from involvements. My Story 210) Most of her poetry concerns itself with the poet’s intensely felt need for declaring her autobiography to the world. Her poetry is crisis- crossed by soul searching, self analysis, introspection and looking deep into oneself, which is why she is called one of the best Indian English woman poets of modern times. Her poetry in itself was reflection of her life, the way she saw it and experienced it. The confessional poems depend upon the honesty of the writer and Kamala Dads has Justified it by being self in her poetic works. She was fascinated by love and to her it meant being honest.
Kamala Dads analyses man-woman relationship from an anti-romantic angle and protest against womanhood suppressed by ethics and taboos. As she has mentioned in almost all poems her husband’s contact with her was usually cruel and brutal. She grew revengeful towards him and reacted in a non-traditional fashion in love-making. She is the voice of feminism. Her voice is the voice of feminism. Kamala Dads’ poems voice not only her own resentment against her husband but, by implication, the resentment of other women who find themselves in a similar predicament.
Each fragment of her poetry is grasped with the thought of femininity. She stands as the revolt against male dominance over female. She revolutionizes the demands, the rights, advantages and the privileges that a woman must get but is deprived due to the over powering activities of men and their dominance over female. Viewed dispassionately we might in conclusion state that, confessional poetry is a monopolistic field for poetry by women and such a inner requires passion to liberate oneself from the complexity of life and male domination towards a life of hope, liberty and meaning.
Kamala Dads was hated and criticized by many people for doing an exceptional thing for an Indian woman, she becomes very successful. She becomes a mirror for the other silenced women. All in all, Kamala Dads is one of the pioneering post-independence Indian English poets to have contributed immensely to the growth and development of modern Indian English poetry. She is one of the modernist writers to assert her femininity as a human in Indian literature; she has been something of a cult figure in her home state ND a source of great inspiration and emulsion for women with literary aspiration.
To conclude, Kamala Dads is a typical confessional poet who pours her heart into her poetry which is largely subjective and autobiographical, anguished and tortured, letting us peep into her sufferings and tortured psyche. There is strong autobiographical touch in it, which makes Mrs.. Dads a confessional poet of the first order. Kamala Dads may or may not be serious about women’s emancipation from male domination, but as a poet she is seriously and creatively concerned with her own identity as a woman.