Theme of Love & Sexuality in Kamala Das' Poetry

Theme of Love & Sexuality in Kamala Das' Poetry

Introduction : Kamala Das :

Kamala Das, popularly known by her one-time pen name Madhavikutty, is one of the most popular Indo-Anglian poets. She was one of the bold contemporary Indian women writers. Her contribution is enormous in the growth of Indian poetry in English. She was one of the first Indian writers to explore sexual themes in her work.

Kamala Das' original name was Kamala Surayya. Apart from being a great Indian English poet and writer, she was also a leading Malayalam author from Kerala. Her popularity is based chiefly on her short stories and autobiographical writings, while her oeuvre in English, written under the name Kamala Das, is noted for the poems and explicit autobiography. She was also a widely read columnist and wrote on diverse topics including women's issues, child care, politics among others etc.

Kamala's poetry is confessional and autobiographical. Her poems have often been considered at par with those of Anne Sexton and Robert Lowell. Here we find the best expression of feminine sensibility. She expresses her desire for love with open boldness and great  frankness. 
Kamala Das
An Introduction as an autobiographical poem by Kamala Das.

Born 31 March 1934, Kerala
Died 31 May 2009, Pune
Profession Poet, Novelist, short story writer
Pen name Madhavikutty
Notable works Ente katha, my story, the descendants
Notable awards Sahitya akademi award, Asian poetry prize


  • Confessional and autobiographical poetry
  • Alienation of women
  • Male Domination
  • Dis-contentment in love
  • Unfulfilled Sexual desire
  • Betrayal and disillusionment
  • Relationships
  • Theme of Love & Sexuality in poetry of Kamala Das :

    Kamala Das has a great passion for love and female sexuality. Her poems reveal her concern for genuine love and portrays women consciousness and craving for true love. She dives into a woman’s consciousness and explores two aspects of feminine sensibility  – first, the relationship of man and woman from woman's perspective and second, woman’s quest for true love.  

    Kamala Das' love poetry is rooted in her own personal experience. Her poetry the manifestation of her failure to find true love. It is a woman's cry for a quest to indulge emotively in love and get herself understood.  Das' poetry is her inner compulsion, a need on the part of the poet to externalizing her inner discomfort in the form of poetry.

     The failure to find emotional fulfilment through love and carnal desires, is the central theme of Das' poetry. She is called the queen of erotica and female sexuality. She has indeed written extensively on love and passion. Most of her poems deal with the theme of unfulfilled love and yearning for love. Das expresses her failure in love or need for love. She speaks of her experiences and passions with an openness and frankness unusual in the Indian context. She boldly writes of her painful experience of love and wounds of love. She is vocal about her disillusionment with love. 

    Related Links
    Important Topics &  Links (๐Ÿ‘ˆclick here)
    An Introduction by Kamala Das Sources of Sublimity by Longinus
    American Literature Yank : a Tragedy Hero 
    British Literature Synchronic & Diachronic Linguistics
    Morphology Phonetics & Phonology

    Das' yearning for love remains unfulfilled in her married life as well. In her poems she speaks of her inner pain and displeasure caused by marriage. It gives her a sense of loss and suffocation. She feels herself crushed and subordinated. Her soul, her spirit, her liberty and her essence as a women is undermined. 

    Kamala Das is a truly authentic feminine voice dealing with women's cause. Her poetry is a revolt against the male-oriented universe. She marks a rebellion in male dominated society for women's vioce to be heard. She give the society another perspective of love, a feminine perspective. Her poems are pre-eminently the poem of love- which includes anguish and pain.

    Kamala Das poetry is based purely on her personal experiences as she grew up starting from her childhood. She remembers of her childhood days' experience of love by her grandmother in her poem 'My Grandmother’s House'. Here she looks into her memories  of happy childhood days, when her grandmother showered her with love and affection in her ancestral home.

    There is house now far away where once
      I received love …. That woman died,
      The house withdrew into silence, snakes moved
      Among books, I was too young
      To read, and my blood turned cold like the moon.”

    Das is indeed nostalgic about her personal experience of love with her grandmother. She compares her relationship with her grandmother to her relationship with her husband. She is really lacking the fulfillment of her feeling of love. The poem articulates her desire for love and her failure to achieve one. On personal scale, her poetry conveys her need for love and sexual pleasure from her better half and on a larger scale it is a subtle description male oriented society with women alienation.

    Kamla Das describes her early sexuality and painful experience of love making in an utter frankness in her An Introduction, she writes:

    "close the doors,
    he did not beat me,
     but my sad women body felt so beaten".

    In the poem “In Love”, Kamala Das shares the sexual experience of love making from a woman's perspective. This poem a woman's cry of untamed emotional feelings. The poem describes a woman's unfulfilled pleasure in sexuality. She describes her love making as a mechanical one. Das speaks of how her feeling are neglected : 

    Embrace a complete thing a finished
    Jigsaw, when mouth on mouth, i lie,
    Ignoring my poor moody mind
    While pleasure, with deliberate gaeity
    Trumpets harshly into the silence of
    the room...

    In Love, She expresses the difficulty in attachment to a man who had made love to her in a rough manner. Kamala Das describes her lover whose love is purely based on his sexual gratification out of her body. His approach for her is to quench his desires. Das does not find any emotional attachment with him. She describes his love making as a skin-communicated thing.

    Apart from above given poems there are a number of poem dealing with the theme of love. Her poem ‘Freaks’ deals with the poet's and her lover‘s abnormal sexual tendencies. In the poem Winter, she says the sense of physical warmth and well – being is placed against the bitter cold of winter winds. In Relationship she identifies her with physical desire.

    Thus Kamala is indeed a authority over love poetry and female sexuality. Feminine search for love and alienation are central to the poetry of Kamala Das. Her poems are autobiographical and self experienced. Her poems are quest for true love that has ended in frustration, discontentment and disillusionment. Her poems show her failure in love and the voice of the victimized women of the world. She has given a different view towards the love, a feminine view.



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