Jayanta Mahapatra

(22 October 1928 - / Cuttack / India)

Hunger - Poem by Jayanta Mahapatra

It was hard to believe the flesh was heavy on my back.
The fisherman said: Will you have her, carelessly,
trailing his nets and his nerves, as though his words
sanctified the purpose with which he faced himself.
I saw his white bone thrash his eyes.

I followed him across the sprawling sands,
my mind thumping in the flesh's sling.
Hope lay perhaps in burning the house I lived in.
Silence gripped my sleeves; his body clawed at the froth
his old nets had only dragged up from the seas.

In the flickering dark his lean-to opened like a wound.
The wind was I, and the days and nights before.
Palm fronds scratched my skin. Inside the shack
an oil lamp splayed the hours bunched to those walls.
Over and over the sticky soot crossed the space of my mind.

I heard him say: My daughter, she's just turned fifteen...
Feel her. I'll be back soon, your bus leaves at nine.
The sky fell on me, and a father's exhausted wile.
Long and lean, her years were cold as rubber.
She opened her wormy legs wide. I felt the hunger there,
the other one, the fish slithering, turning inside

Comments about Hunger by Jayanta Mahapatra

  • Bijay Kant Dubey (8/14/2016 2:23:00 PM)

    Hunger as a poem is not about the hunger of the belly, but about sexual hunger, gratification and voluptuous greed which it is difficult to resist. But the pain of the story lies it in flesh trade and woman trafficking. Though of a confessional slant, the poem is held as a dialogue between the author persona and the old fisherman living by the sea beach, in the shanty made from haystacks and palm leaves with the evening descending upon and the oil lamp somehow burning in the hut. The fisherman offers his teenage daughter to the strange guest for a bargain of some money. Tired of drawing nets with the retarded and tired muscles, he resorts to the selling of the fifteen year old daughter. We think how can it be, but it happens is the reality not envisaged. Into the shack he satisfies his lust and the girl slithering like fish, turning inside.
    Hunger as a poem is a pathetic picture of human hunger and poverty. For the hunger of the belly, what man can do and what level can he step to while on the other the.bodily hunger is something different. The other thing is this that how can a father may ask to feel his own. The sky seems to fall upon when he hears the words from him. The authorly persona too relishes upon instead of resisting the temptation.
    Thought the poet here discusses the poverty of the fisher girl and the helplessness for the old father, but apart from the love of sexuality is a major part of his poetry. Apart from imagistic, Jayanta is sexual and bodily too which is but a Lawrentine feature.
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Poem Submitted: Thursday, March 29, 2012

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