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Advice to Women -- Eunice deSouza

Guest poem sent in by Deepa Balakrishnan and Suresh
Ramasubramanian
(Poem #682) Advice to Women
 Keep cats
 if you want to learn to cope with
 the otherness of lovers.
 Otherness is not always neglect --
 Cats return to their litter trays
 when they need to.
 Don't cuss out of the window
 at their enemies.
 That stare of perpetual surprise
 in those great green eyes
 will teach you
 to die alone.
-- Eunice deSouza
commentary by suresh follows ...

This is a really off-beat poem - comparing a cat's haughtily indifferent
attitude towards life, the universe and everything (it's always there - and
it's all mine - let it be) to what a woman's reaction must be when jilted by
a lover.

I rather like the way it cloaks bitter sorrow and anger with light hearted
banter about a cat ... and also note that cats are (if I've read enough
books) often the companions of old maiden (Miss Marple-ish) ladies <g>

Eunice deSouza is one of India's better modern poets ... a Roman Catholic
Goan brought up in Pune, and now Head of the Dept of English at St.Xavier's
College, Bombay.  She's also published a lot of children's fiction - most of
which was published by Echo Books, a more or less defunct arm of Uncle
(Ananth) Pai's India Book House (more popular for its Amar Chitra Katha and
Tinkle comics - see http://www.freeindia.org/ack for these)

This poem is typical of de Souza's work which rarely drifts beyond the
particular, the identifiable object. The writing style is sheer drama, using
the seemingly transparent language of spoken English, without any conceits
and attempted graces - which make her poems a sheer pleasure to read aloud.

The idiom is almost entirely uncluttered by metaphor and imagery (a lot of
which I grew to _hate_ thanks to being force-fed a diet of the 'Chhayavaad'
genre of Hindi poetry - Mahadevi Varma and such ... which believed in heavy
use of symbolism to express often maudlin sentiments - one of the reasons
why I abhor poetesses like Toru Dutt and Sarojini Naidu ...)

but I degress .... back to Ms. deSouza,

Her poems are totally devoid of the traditional devices which indicate mood
or define emotion. They rely mainly on sound, rhythm of lines, on tone and
the (natural) accenting of precisely placed words and phrases.  Again, one
of the best reasons why her poetry is best read aloud.

- Suresh

[Links]

poem #603 for another poem by deSouza

I was unable to find a biography I could link to.

[Offtopic, but...]

See http://www.indiatogether.org/relief/quake.htm if you'd like to help any
of several relief efforts for the recent earthquake in Gujarat.

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