Women and Poetry
Throughout ages and since time immemorial, women have occupied a unique position in men’s world of poetry as a beautiful object, often silent and shy. Some poets went to extreme depths in writing about a woman’s bodily beauty in an obscene manner and some highly idealized her in a goddess like figure. She occupied the greatest seat in love poetry, caricaturised as listening indifferently to the sighs and pangs of her lovers. This was a courtly love tradition, followed by English poets like Sidney. He can be contrasted with Mirza Ghalib, an acclaimed Ghazal poet.
There were other male poets who attacked women for their personal reasons and poked fun at women-kind. The echoes of honour and chastity were heard often. As in Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock, the cutting of locks was associated with loss of chastity. The female poets gradually emerged but their works lacked recognition. They chose the topics related to their everyday life and vivid experiences. The female poets, being confined to their homes, were hardly given any exposure to the outside world. The societal norms often interrupted them and if published, they would be judged negatively by society. One thing to note is that the idealized or degraded position of women in poetry was given merely by men and women lacked authorities. A woman’s feelings were considered least significant and she was hardly given any voice. A male poet’s perspectives were glorified in accordance witha woman’s bodily beauties and charms. She was indirectly blamed for her mesmerising qualities that made all men her adorers and slaves. She will be either glorified as a mistress, all pretty and fine or as a wife, less attractive to please a beauty-slave, hungry husband. A mistress will be celebrated as gorgeous in poetry may be because men could behave freely with her and leave her when her charms fade. While the sacred vows of marriage would bind him to one woman, his spouse for life-time.
Even the definition of love seems altering when observed closely. It can be called a game played by people to gain something materialistic in some cases. Some love poetry writers might be aiming to gain acclamation and profit, without any concern for love in their lives. They make money by praising women as merely a sex-object created for their pleasure. Her eyes captivating, wounding men with darts, She, the beautiful thief of hearts, Innocent men, never accept their faults, Her beauty blamed at the end, for assaults. Thus, looking at the relation between poetry and women, it can be inferred that love poetry has been used to express men’s ideas about women and the indirect acceptance of men’s infatuation and uncontrollable desires towards most of the women.
About the Author: This article is contributed by Anam Fatima, our intern.