The Old Playhouse Poem by Kamala Das

The Old Playhouse

Rating: 3.3

You planned to tame a swallow, to hold her
In the long summer of your love so that she would forget
Not the raw seasons alone, and the homes left behind, but
Also her nature, the urge to fly, and the endless
Pathways of the sky. It was not to gather knowledge
Of yet another man that I came to you but to learn
What I was, and by learning, to learn to grow, but every
Lesson you gave was about yourself. You were pleased
With my body's response, its weather, its usual shallow
Convulsions. You dribbled spittle into my mouth, you poured
Yourself into every nook and cranny, you embalmed
My poor lust with your bitter-sweet juices. You called me wife,
I was taught to break saccharine into your tea and
To offer at the right moment the vitamins. Cowering
Beneath your monstrous ego I ate the magic loaf and
Became a dwarf. I lost my will and reason, to all your
Questions I mumbled incoherent replies. The summer
Begins to pall. I remember the rudder breezes
Of the fall and the smoke from the burning leaves. Your room is
Always lit by artificial lights, your windows always
Shut. Even the air-conditioner helps so little,
All pervasive is the male scent of your breath. The cut flowers
In the vases have begun to smell of human sweat. There is
No more singing, no more dance, my mind is an old
Playhouse with all its lights put out. The strong man's technique is
Always the same, he serves his love in lethal doses,
For, love is Narcissus at the water's edge, haunted
By its own lonely face, and yet it must seek at last
An end, a pure, total freedom, it must will the mirrors
To shatter and the kind night to erase the water.

Soumita Sarkar 12 June 2013

Phenomenal...........what else could be said about the demeaning ego and state of a wife belittled infront of her man.......a strong man.

12 8 Reply
Narayanan Kutty Pozhath 25 April 2018

This poem must be expressing her feelings towards her husband.

10 3 Reply
Rohit Dixit 21 December 2012

One of the monumental work in Anglo Indian writing

6 5 Reply
Subair M 21 November 2017

Wonderful lines from an Indian writer

4 1 Reply
lhadron 28 December 2018

It is very intersting

2 1 Reply
Bijay Kant Dubey 29 August 2022

Where the old playhouse? How the actors? How the drama of love going to be staged? None but man and woman are players.

0 0 Reply
Bijay Kant Dubey 03 May 2022

The Old Playhouse is the same theatre of life where the drama of love is staged and the protagonists, personae, mouthpieces are the same characters turning up as man and woman. There is nothing as that to introduce the third gender..

0 0 Reply
Manoj Srivastav 20 November 2021

Just phenomenal 🤠 love this one

0 2 Reply
Moloy Nandi 19 September 2020


1 0 Reply
t.Sadanandan 08 May 2019

It is a great poem love is Narcissus at the water's edgeby a great poet

1 0 Reply
Kamala Das

Kamala Das

Punnayurkulam, Thrissur District in Kerala
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