Hello Lust is about lust and the nature of the emotion. It is filled with glorious metaphors which really dig down into the complex nature of the emotion. It details the “high” associated with the emotion and the euphoria it can cause but also goes on to explore the fleeting nature of the emotion and how it can leave you with a kind of hollowness.
Form and Tone
The poem consists of six short stanzas. Most of these are just three lines long apart from the fifth stanza. It is not uncommon for Nair to forego the use of a poetic structure; most of her work is presented in free verse. She is also not a great user of rhyming patterns and this poem is no exception to that rule. This poem is not a love poem, instead it describes the emotion of lust and how it feels. In the style of a romantic poet Nair draws on nature to help describe this complex emotion. Whether or not the narrator considers the emotion to be a positive or negative one isn’t made completely clear until near the end of the poem. it is hard to put a label on what the tone of Hello Lust is. Perhaps it would be classed as a reflective piece?
Hello Lust Analysis
This first stanza contains a slight double entendre. The line ends on the word “came” this is a slang word for having an orgasm. Straight away this sends a message about the content of this poem. It is unashamedly about lust. The innuendo continues with the word calling appearing widowed on the second line. Calling could bring to the fore images of somebody calling out their lovers name in the throes of passion. The idea this first stanza presents is that you don’t know when feelings of lust are going to hit you. The narrator almost berates themselves for not having yet been able to grasp the concept of this as we see in the last line of the stanza.
The concept of lust is almost personified here . The suggestion is that it is an entity that can seek you out. This is an interesting device to use and really helps to add to the grandeur of the concept of lust. It builds it into something more than just an emotion. The second line of this stanza is a little strange as it says “shaking little be Is at the door” the shaking could be another double entendre, people are often thought to shake during the climax of sexual activity. (At least if you’re doing it right!)
It then uses nature in order to describe the emotion this is done in a fascinating manner. It begins by talking of sunshine which perhaps hides a little the darker side of lust. Lust and love are often seen to go hand in hand, but whilst one would associate love with purity, lust is widely considered to be less pure and is often seen to go hand in hand with the idea of sinning. Sly desires is possibly the way the narrator chooses to put across this side of the emotion. And perhaps the comparison to grass is supposed to represent that too. After all, grass is pretty much everywhere isn’t it?
This stanza starts off once again describing the emotion in an inventive way. The idea of a feather trailing down anything suggests the concept of being tickled perhaps that is deliberate with the intonation being that lust “tickles your fancy” At least that is how I have interpreted it! The second line is extremely evocative. Note the use of the word “knead” You use this action when you make bread it is a strenuous, time consuming process that “wears the bread down” once again this is a clever metaphor suggesting that lust will slowly but surely have its way with you. The use of the word catatonic is also key here. Something that is catatonic is unable to move or function. Is the suggestion here that lust trumps love? Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between the two. The two things are not mutually exclusive either.
What is interesting about the first line of this stanza is it describes lust as “gathering you into its arms” this gives the impression of a feeling of protection. For me this would be a feeling that I would more closely associate with love. Perhaps this is intentional to highlight the similarities between the two emotions. I think the next line is supposed to be a commentary on how lust is all consuming. It takes over the mind and otherwise trivialises things that might usually seem important. The final two lines give lust an almost hypnotic quality.I think that’s why these lines focus on a person’s eyes. The idea of being planted suggest that it has roots. This is another way of suggesting that lust can take a hold of a person.
The first line of this stanza is very sharp and to the point. I think there is a depth to this statement though. I think the suggestion is that love comes with a promise. If you love someone you know what you will get out of that emotion. Whereas lust does not have such assurances. Lust does not come with a promise. It makes it sound like an altogether less attractive prospect when worded like that! It then continues to say that it leaves you adrift. This stanza seems to be summing up the consequences of giving into lust. And none of these seem particularly positive. The final line really reiterates what has already been said and points to the inevitable regret that results in following lust. This is like an exclamation point at the end of this very negative stanza.
This first line is revealing and once again it highlights the differences between love and lust. When you lose love you feel heartbroken and are often reminded of that feeling you once had, the intonation here is that lust leaves nothing. Not even a memory of a good feeling. It makes it seem like a hollow emotion. This stanza suggests that the lusty feelings are all just in a person’s head, once again I think there is an unsaid comparison between lust and love with the suggestion being that love is something more than just your head playing tricks on you. At least that is how I interpret this. The final line really just sums up how the narrator ultimately feels about lust. That it is worthless and should be just tossed aside.
About Anita Nair
Anita Nair is a poet of Indian descent, though she writes in the English language. She has a BA in literature which she obtained from her native India. She has a reasonably sized back catalogue of books; these vary from poetry collections to short story collections. Nair often incorporates religious themes throughout her poetry. She does not necessarily come across as somebody who believes in religion herself though. She has enjoyed a relatively successful career and has been recipient of several awards.