The Convicts by Kamala Das

The poem, The Convicts, by Kamala Das deals with the limitations of the life of lust. It is a purely physical relationship which does not extend beyond the exploitation of the body only. The lovers feel like convicts in this lustful relationship. There is no space for the satisfaction of emotional-cum-aspirations.

The female speaker’s experience of lust was very bitter and shocking. She is reminded of the days when their lusts were like multi-coloured flags having no specific national identity. She and her lover lay on their bed with expressionless eyes, and looked dead tired after the completion of the sexual act. They felt like useless broken toys left behind by children after playing with them.

They finally realized the futility of the life of lust and lost all fascination for it. It was the lonely kind of love which could not go beyond the body. They looked like convicts breaking clods at noon and secretly observing each other’s private parts.

 

What is The Convicts About?

The poem, The Convicts, deals with the limitations of the life of lust. Here the female speaker is reminded of the time when their lusts were like multiple flags having no specific identity. They lay on the bed with expressionless eyes and looked quite tired after the sexual act. They felt like broken toys left behind by children after playing with them. Finally, they realized the futility of the excessive life of lust and lost momentary faith in it. It was pure lustful relation which could not transcend the body. Like convicts, they were secretly observing each other’s private parts and breaking clods at noon.

The lovers were like earth under the hot sun. They felt so hot that even the cool mountain nights failed to lessen its intensity. It was a time when they lost their identity as a male or a female. They were totally submerged in each other. No words were exchanged between them, because they were drowned in the advancing arms of night. They matured in darkness as they sang in silence. Each note rising out of the sea, out of the wind, out of the earth and sad night is like an ache.

 

Images and Metaphors in The Convicts

In the poem, The Convicts, the female speaker’s sense of guilt is conveyed through the metaphor “convicts”. The energy and speed involved in the sexual act is suggestively conveyed through the image in ‘breaking clods/At noon’. The phrase “hot sun” shows the energy and violence involved in the sexual intercourse.

 

The Convicts Analysis

There was a time when our lusts were

(…)

At noon,

This first stanza of the poem, The Convicts, by Kamala Das, shows the futility of the life of lust which does not transcend beyond the physical level. It deprives the female speaker of the emotional as well as spiritual pleasures of life.

The female speaker is here reminded of the days when their lusts were like multi-coloured flags having no specific national identity. She and her love lay on their bed with expressionless eyes and looked dead tired after the completion of the sexual act. They felt like useless broken toys left behind by children after playing with them.

They finally realized the futility of the life of lust and lost all fascination for it. It was the lonely kind of love, which could not go beyond the body. They looked like convicts breaking clods at noon and secretly observing each other private parts.

The poet’s disillusionment with the life of lust reaches its nadir in this part of the poem. It is the criticism of the life of lust which offers no opportunity for the satisfaction of the emotional-cum-spiritual aspirations.

We were earth under hot

(…)

Male nor female.

In this extract of the poem, the lovers realized the futility of lustful relationship and found it quite useless. They both felt like convicts absorbed in hacking at each other’s parts. It was a lonely kind of love that ended in frustration and disillusionment. They seemed totally tired and felt like dead toys left behind by children.

The lovers were like earth under the hot sun. They were so hot that even the cool mountains nights could not reduce its intensity. They lost their gender identities in the process of love-making. They were totally diffused in each other and lost the consciousness of being male or female. Being lost in love-making, the lovers are quite oblivious of the external happenings.

There were no more

(…)

Out of each sad night like an ache…

Continuing the prior extract, the poet says that they were totally submerged in each other. No words were exchanged between them, because they were drowned in the advancing arms of night. They matured in darkness as they sang in silence. Each note rising out of the sea, out of the wind, out of the earth and sad night is like an ache.

 

Conclusion

The poem, The Convicts, deals with the limitations of the life of lust. It is a purely physical relationship which does not extend beyond the exploitation of the body only. It was the lonely kind of love which could not go beyond the body. The lovers lost their gender identities in the process of love-making. Being totally diffused in each, they lost the very consciousness of being male or female.

The female speaker’s experience of lust was very bitter and shocking. She is reminded of the days when their lust were like multi-coloured flags having no specific national identity. She and her lover lay on their bed with expressionless eyes and looked dead tired after the completion of the sexual act. They felt like useless broken toys left behind by children after playing with them. They finally realized the futility of the life of lust and lost all fascination for it. It was the lonely kind of love which could not go beyond the body. They looked like convicts breaking clods at noon and secretly observing each other’s private parts:

The use, what’s the bloody use

That was the only kind of love

The hacking at each other’s parts.

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