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“Advice to women” is a poem by Eunice De Souza. In this poem the poet talks about handling emotionally neglectful relationships by using the metaphor of adopting a cat. She tells them that the cat will allow them to learn how to live and eventually die alone. The cat’s inability to be emotionally connected with other people will teach the women about their own relationships. By doing this, the poet gives advice to women about handling such relationships in their lives.
About the poet
Eunice De Souza was born in 1940 in Pune, India. She was an Indian-English poet. She was acclaimed as an English language poet and literary critic. She is well known for her poetry collection, which includes famous works “Fix”, “Women in Dutch Painting” and “A Necklace of Skulls”. She also wrote novels and was a renowned novelist. She wrote two novels, “Dangerlok” and “Dev & Simran: A Novel”.
The poem is made up of one stanza, consisting of 12 lines.
Keep cats if you want to learn to cope with the otherness of lovers. Otherness is not always neglect - Cats return to their litter trays when they need to. Don't cuss out of the window at their enemies. That stare of perpetual surprise in those great green eyes will teach you to die alone.
The poem begins with the speaker suggesting that women can learn important lessons from adopting cats. It’s like a metaphor for being in a relationship where your partner is different from you. The speaker explains that this “otherness” doesn’t mean neglect; it’s just that, like cats, partners will come back when they need to. The speaker advises women not to get angry or curse at their enemies but instead learn to accept situations. This, according to the speaker, will teach women how to face the prospect of being alone in the future. The advice seems to encourage patience, understanding, and resilience in relationships.
The poem begins by telling the reader to take care of cats. This advice seems out of the blue but the speaker tells how taking care of cats will allow the reader “to learn to cope with the otherness of love”. Here by “otherness” the poet is hinting at the male partners in a relationship that may be emotionally distant with he woman, making her feel like an other in the relationship. Here the cat is a metaphor for the man in the relationship. But the speaker says that “otherness is not always neglect”, i.e it is the nature of a cat to not rely on anyone else. They do so because it is their nature. In the same way in relationships, the distant partner is only doing what their nature allows them to do. Thus, women should not take it personally and learn how to live by themselves and continue their journey of knife to death alone.
In the next lines, the speaker advices the women not to lash out their frustration outwards and “cuss out of the window/ at their enemies”. Finally the speaker tells the women to look into the “great green eyes” of the cat and know that even though everyone wants to spread their life with someone and then eventually die together, it is not always possible. Thus they should learn from the cats how to accept the idea of dying alone.