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Devotion by Sarojini Naidu

Long before Kamala Das, Sarojini Naidu wrote just like her, but not choosing that trend as ever, to base upon, to be called, one of man-woman relationship, writing poetry, laced with sexual love and dreams, erotic, sensual, earthly and pornographic and confessional, as did Plath and so on, deriving from life experiences and autobiography, in a confessional way, which is but one point, barring others. To read Kamala is to think of Shakespeare and transgender stuffs and cross-dressing, eunuchs and their language, Wilde and gay literature, Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and so on; to think of her is to think of gender bias, patriarchal hegemony, moral police and their queer legislation and enforcement laws, women studies and domestic violence. To think of Kamala is to think of Vatsyayana, Freud, Rajneesh and others relating to in that way. Kamala’s poetry is of Kunti and Draupadi, not of Sita and Lakshamanrekha when taken to in terms of the patriarchal circle of conventions and orthodox social taboos and ghettos. But when we refer to this poem, Devotion, it reminds us of Robert Burns’ My Love Is Like a Red Rose and other love lyrics. But the tone is one of love and sincerity, closeness and affection as it is in Kamala similar to that.

Devotion as a poem from Sarojini Naidu reminds us of latter-day Kamala Das and her style of writing. The poem is like Spenser’s One Day I Wrote Her Name where the lover keeps writing the name of the beloved on the sea strand, but the waves come splashing, surfing unto the shore and go away wiping it, proving his effort to immortalize her name futile. There is nothing as that can last it here. There is nothing to immortalize her name.

I am but yours, only yours. Take you my blood to water the garden, my flesh to feed your dogs if choose you, but abandon me not, not, my love. Am I not yours? Can you say? I am yours, darling. O mad one, I am yours, not of anyone other than you, yours, only yours. 

Strangle me and fling me into the fire. But allow you no room for any suspicion. Doubt you not. I am yours, only yours. Love, my love, I am like a flower. Let me lie in your breast and if this be not, let me burn like a weed into the fire of hell. My agnipariksha will be one that of love. Test me not, not, my love. I am yours, only yours and you are mine, only mine.

I am for you, only you, whatever you may think but I am yours, only yours and you, only mine, mine. The intensity of her emotion and feeling can be taken into consideration with which she has written and presented it.

The poem in some other way reminds us of Jayanta Mahapatra’s Nameless Person and to add to it the tattoo keeps saying the name of yours, an Indian woman spelling it not the name of her husband, as it will be a sin to lisp it demanding a dip into the holy waters of the Ganges but instead showing the name written on her husband’s hand.

The poetess says you can take her flesh to feed the dogs  you like or by the way think of choosing it to do, you can water the garden-trees with her blood, may turn her heart into ashes and her dreams into dust, whatever like you, you can do to it, to the body, but mistrust her not, she is yours, only yours and barring it, not of anyone else. By heart and soul, she is his, her own lover.

For Sarojini, love is indelible and immortal. It is love which never ends, is the thing of her. Words must be kept. Promises in love must be kept. Her heart is of a lover’s heart. Here the poem, Devotion has been excerpted from A.R. Chida’s edited book, An Anthology of Indo Anglian Verse.

Take my flesh to feed your dogs if you choose,
Water your garden-trees with my blood if you will,
Turn my heart into ashes, my dreams into dust---
Am I not yours, O Love, to cherish or kill?

Strangle my soul and fling it into the fire!
Why should my true love falter or fear or rebel?
Love, I am yours to lie in your breast like a flower,
Or burn like a weed for your sake in the flame of hell.

Strangle her soul and fling into the fire but think of it that she will not revolt against, turn a face against. She is yours, only ours, of none the other else. Why fear and make one live in fear? Why turn the back to after loving one, giving heart to? It is not love that will falter. She is true to him and is sincere in her love. This body of flesh and blood is hers. Her heart and soul is his, as such is her loyalty. She cannot think of anyone else without him.

03-Feb-2024

More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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