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‘An Introduction’ by Kamala Das as a lyric poem

 An Introduction

Kamala Das

‘An Introduction’ by Kamala Das as a lyric poem
 Q. ‘An Introduction’ by Kamala Das as a lyric poem

Answer: Kamala Das's poem An Introduction is a lyric, although not a typical or popular one, either in its theme or in its technique. At distinct mark of a lyrical poem is self-revelation. This is a personal poem in which the poetess gives out her own experience, attitude and association mood and mind. In fact she reveals much of her life and mind in a lyric proper that is, to some extent, autobiographical.

The poem, An Introduction is distinctly personal. The poetess's subject matter here, as already stated, is her own self. The poem is a presentation by the poetess of her own self from different angles. In this regard, the poem can be called autobiographical.

As a matter of fact, the poem presents all through by, means of some distinct materials, the poetess’ own life as well as mind, as perceived generally in a good lyric. The poetess states here, one after another, her own political aloofness but preliminary acquaintance with political personalities, her nationality,  languages and specific choice for English, her marriage, her love for another person and her non-conventional and anti-traditional point of view.

Self-revelation, however, is not only sign of a lyric, although it is an important aspect. An emotional intensity is another notable feature of lyrical poetry. A lyric poem is actually a crop of fast, fleeting and passionate emotions.  Impulsiveness matters much in lyrical expressions, as seen in such great lyrics as Ode to the West Wind or Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on the Intimation of Immortality and so on.

Kamala Das's An Introduction is no doubt a spontaneous expression of impulsiveness. But it's not as sensitive as Shelley or Keats. The poetess here expresses her emotions rather in a restrained tone. It is more self-reasoning than self-expressive, more guided by a specific temper than by is spontaneous feeling. Her restraint, somewhat heavy, mood is found expressed in regard to her attachment to the language ‘half English, half Indian’ –

‘An Introduction’ by Kamala Das as a lyric poem

The comparison seems felicitous but the emotion is slowly flowing. Of course, in the concluding part his passion is quicker as clear below-  

“I am sinner

I am Saint. I am the beloved and the


Imagination, another dominant feature in the lyric proper, so much pervasive in the great romanticists, is not here enough impressive. Of course, the poem is autobiographical and such a poem has not the sufficient scope to have recourse to imagination. There is no imaginative description to mention in An Introduction. The poetess certainly draws two images from her personal life.

The first one is of her bodily growth-

‘An Introduction’ by Kamala Das as a lyric poem

The second one is about her marriage –

‘An Introduction’ by Kamala Das as a lyric poem

However, the images are precise but not impressive.

Lastly, there is the melody- a strongly musical element in lyrical poetry. Sonority in meter and rhyme constitutes the appeal of a good lyric. The melody- the harmonious music- of lyrical poetry has a rare charm and a wonderful effect in such great lyricists like Shelley, Keats, Tennyson and Rossetti. Kamala Das's An Introduction is no conventional, popular lyric. This has not the sonorous appeal of music. The poem has not the rhyme of the characteristic lyric, and is written in unrhymed lines. This is actually written in blank verse. The poem has also no stanza pattern of a lyric. It has two unequal divisions of thirty-seven lines and thirty-two lines. The material arrangements, too, are uneven. Of course, the diction of the poem is nothing abstruse or vague, although it is not easy to follow the poetic sense of the lines always.


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