A poem is a composite art symbol and is a signature of aesthetic competent. Gauri Deshpande excels in her poetic creativity and the fabric of sensibility that she articulates is not only significant but is also innovative. The enduring quality of her poetry is not only a sum total of past heritage but is also referential, expressive and connotative. Gauri Deshpande is a name that the critic and the reader of Indian English Poetry can not by-pass without leaving a conspicuous lacuna in his repertoire. As for her post of prestige in the tradition of the genre, she is, no doubt, with Toru Dutt, Sarojini Naidu and Kamala Das, comfortably bolstered up by the merit and the body of work that she has to her name. The structural manipulation of a poem is equally interesting and the canon of her English Poetry so far includes three collections, namely, Between Births (1968), Lost Love (1970), and Beyond The Slaughter House (1972) with a total of eighty poem, presumably and hopefully excluding the ones not published and not anthologised so far, depict the female psyche as well as the imagery with which her primary concerns are underlined. To mark out the singular feature of each of these collections, separate slots are assigned to each.
Between Births was published in 1968 and has twenty-six poems. The first poem Death explores the heart of the beloved who is impatiently waiting for her “a tardy lover for surrender”. The beloved knows that love is a route to death – death of freedom, death of individuality and death of one’s peculiar whims but still she is determined for the holy seven steps that will “Make him/my ally”(18-19). Unlike feminist poets like Kamala Das, Gauri Deshpande believes that love is conjugality, bliss, togetherness as says “Slipping on this death”(9). In the succeeding canto of the poem the “frantic effort” to reach out to ones lover is still maintained. The female and the feminine are juxtaposed. The female is defined in terms of role that of a wife, of a mother and above all that of a human being whereas feminine in terms of love, tenderness, affection, generosity and sacrifice which is innate and inherent in Indian tradition. The negation of oneself is also suggested by expressions like “Here’s where you’ve brought me, my meager brown path/This is the end” (34-5). The willingness to merge ones identity with the domesticity at large is suggested with noticeable modesty and equal amount of humanity:
My brother who held my hand at every bend,
My lover about whose neck I must fall now
Must fall on my shadow, end this duality now. (31-3)
In the third canto the woman in the poet recollects all that it longed for. The commitment of a woman to her expansive social realm has reduced her personal demands to a decipher. The longings are conveyed through the cycles of seasons, where she feels sorry for the poor summer that has disappeared so early and the quick winter that interrupt her with a shocking suddenness. Nevertheless she reconciles...