Off we go girls with a new poem. This time you are being given the author, the title and the nationality. SO just read it, ejnoy it and the ONLY thing (used with a pinch of irony, of course) you are being asked to do is: let yourselves be carried away by these words and let me know where you end up. What do you think the poem is about? In two weeks’ time you will find some extra information posted in italics, so that you will be able to appreciate the poem even more.
When I die
Do not throw the meat and bones away
But pile them up
Let them tell
By their smell
What life was worth
On this earth
What love was worth
In the end.
The request in ll. 1-6 seems to comply with the Indian custom of burning corpses. However, those "meat and bones" have something to "tell": how are thye supposed to do it and what does that imply?
The smell of a corpse is certainly not a ncie one. This implies taht "meat and bones" have quite a "bad" story to tell.
Is the general tone of the poem pessimistic or optimistic? Hos is this tone achieved? (in terms of images and rhythm)?
Pessimism is achieved through the reference to "smell" and through the despairing rhythmical positon of "in the end" which concludes the poem. The use of very short lines is also funcitonal: every word becomes important and emphatic.
Kamala Das was born in 1934 into a liteary Hindu family in India. Af fifteen, she was compelled to marry a cousin and moved to Calcutta. Af sixteen she had her first son. The forced marraige and her life away from her hometown (Malabar) were traumatic expereinces which inspired some of her best poetry. After her divorce she returned to Malabar whe she still lives. Her own forced loveless marriage has turned into an extended metaphor for the situation of all Indian women who are victims of a patriarchal culture. Her love poems express her femininity and her belonging to the Indian tradition and landscape. She has insisted on the need to rebel against tyrannical conventions and on woman’s need to find her own identity, of which "true love" and passion are only a part. She has been considered a feminist wrter, but she has always rejected that label, declaring that in her poetry she only wanted to be honest and that she was simply interested in what is right or wrong.