Kamala Das, a prominent Indian poet, novelist, and short-story writer, is known for her bold and frank portrayal of female sexuality and identity. In her poem “My Mother at Sixty Six,” she reflects on the aging process of her mother and her own mortality.
The poem is a poignant and deeply personal reflection on life, death, and the passage of time. In this article, we will explore the poetic devices used in “My Mother at Sixty Six” and their significance in conveying the poem’s themes.:
- Repetition: The phrase “my mother at sixty-six” is repeated throughout the poem, emphasizing the speaker’s focus on her mother’s age and the changes that have taken place in her life.
- Imagery: The poem uses vivid imagery to convey the changes that the mother has experienced over the years, including the loss of her husband, the transformation of her home, and the physical changes that come with aging.
- Personification: The poem personifies the mother’s age, describing it as a “guest” that has “taken up its place” in the mother’s life. This personification adds depth and emotional resonance to the speaker’s reflections on her mother’s aging.
- Metaphor: The poem uses the metaphor of a “flower” to describe the mother’s youth and beauty. This metaphor helps to convey the speaker’s appreciation for her mother’s physical and emotional beauty, even as she grows older.
- Alliteration: The repetition of the letter “s” in the phrase “sleeps softly” creates a sense of calm and peacefulness. This alliteration helps to convey the speaker’s love and appreciation for her mother.
The Theme of Mortality:
In “My Mother at Sixty Six,” the theme of mortality looms large. The poet reflects on the inevitability of aging and death, and the emotional impact it has on those left behind. The poem begins with a sense of foreboding, as the poet describes her mother’s vulnerability during their car journey.
The use of the word “nightfall” in the opening line creates a sense of darkness and impending doom. The poet’s sense of unease is further conveyed through the use of the phrase “unreeling yards of velvet” which suggest the ominous presence of death.
Imagery and Symbolism:
The poem is rich in vivid and sensory imagery that conveys the emotional weight of the themes explored. The use of imagery and symbolism is particularly notable in the description of the mother’s face. The poet describes her mother’s face as “pale as a late winter’s moon” which evokes a sense of fragility and transience. The use of the metaphor “a fallen statue” suggests the mother’s loss of agency and vitality in old age.
Alliteration and Repetition:
The poet uses alliteration and repetition to create a musical and rhythmic effect in the poem. The repetition of the word “slowly” in the opening lines creates a sense of languor and lethargy, which is in keeping with the overall tone of the poem. The use of alliteration in the phrase “the small round stones clicking” creates a sense of the car’s movement and the passage of time.
Enjambment and Caesura:
The use of enjambment and caesura in the poem creates a sense of fluidity and movement. Enjambment occurs when a line of poetry continues into the next without a pause. This technique is used in the line “At every jolt, the blood in my veins” which creates a sense of urgency and tension. Caesura, on the other hand, is a pause within a line of poetry. This technique is used in the line “My eyes can hardly see” which creates a sense of hesitation and vulnerability.
The Use of Metaphors:
Metaphors are used throughout the poem to convey complex emotions and ideas. The metaphor of the “fallen statue” has already been discussed, but another notable example is the use of the phrase “black lake” to describe the mother’s eyes. This metaphor suggests the depth and darkness of her eyes, as well as the mystery and unknowability of her inner world.
What is “My Mother at Sixty Six”?
“My Mother at Sixty Six” is a poem written by Kamala Das, an Indian poet and writer. It was first published in 1965 and is a part of her collection of poems, Summer in Calcutta. The poem is a reflection on the speaker’s mother’s aging and mortality, and the emotions that come with it.
What is the theme of “My Mother at Sixty Six”?
The theme of “My Mother at Sixty Six” is mortality and the fear of losing a loved one. The poem explores the emotions that come with the realization of a loved one’s mortality, particularly the speaker’s mother. The poem also touches upon themes of aging, separation, and acceptance.
What are the poetic devices used in “My Mother at Sixty Six”?
There are several poetic devices used in “My Mother at Sixty Six”. One of the most prominent is imagery, as the poem vividly describes the scene of the speaker and her mother driving through the streets of Kerala. There is also the use of metaphor, as the speaker compares her mother to a “dim lamp” and the approaching darkness to death. Other poetic devices used in the poem include repetition, alliteration, and personification.
What is the tone of “My Mother at Sixty Six”?
The tone of “My Mother at Sixty Six” is one of sadness and resignation. The poem conveys the speaker’s emotions of fear and sadness as she contemplates her mother’s aging and mortality. The tone is also reflective, as the speaker looks back on her memories with her mother and reflects on the inevitability of death.
What is the significance of the title “My Mother at Sixty Six”?
The title “My Mother at Sixty Six” is significant as it establishes the age of the speaker’s mother and the fact that she is nearing the end of her life. The title also emphasizes the close relationship between the speaker and her mother, as the use of “my” suggests a personal connection.