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The feminist poet Eunice de Souza wrote the poem “Bequest” in which she discusses how patriarchy affects women’s destiny. She speaks from the viewpoint of a female speaker, most likely the poet herself, whose thoughts are influenced by the rigid standards of the phallogocentric society. Her tone is a little lost and shows pain. This painful soliloquy is not just a single woman’s confession to the world. It is the agonized monologue of all the women, whose individual voices are either muted or tainted with patriarchal essence.
About the poet
Eunice de Souza was an Indian poet, literary critic, and novelist. She wrote several notable books, including Women in Dutch Painting, Ways of Belonging, Nine Indian Women Poets, These My Words, and Learn From The Almond Leaf. She also published two novels and edited anthologies on poetry, folktales, and literary criticism.
In every Catholic home there’s a picture of Christ holding his bleeding heart in his hand. I used to think, ugh.
In these lines from the poem “Bequeath,” the speaker describes a common image found in Catholic homes: a picture of Christ holding his bleeding heart in his hand. The speaker admits to having had a negative reaction to this image in the past, expressing a sense of disgust or discomfort with it.
The poem explores the complex relationship between individuals and religious imagery, focusing on the central symbol of Christ holding his bleeding heart. The speaker’s initial reaction to the image is negative, suggesting a strong aversion or discomfort. The lines hint at a shift in perspective over time, possibly due to personal growth or beliefs. The poem also highlights the subjectivity of personal reactions to religious symbols, highlighting the diversity of beliefs and emotional responses.
The only person with whom I have not exchanged confidences is my hairdresser.
In these lines, the speaker reflects on their relationships and the act of confiding in others. They state that the only person they have not shared their inner thoughts or secrets with is their hairdresser.
The speaker’s relationship with their hairdresser is a reflection of their openness and confiding with others, but not with the hairdresser. The speaker suggests that they have not shared personal information or confidences with this individual, suggesting a professional and transactional relationship. The absence of trust and intimacy in the relationship suggests a boundary or distance. The poem also raises questions about social norms and expectations regarding confidence, highlighting the arbitrary nature of confiding in certain individuals.
Some recommend stern standards. Others say float along. He says, take it as it comes, meaning, of course, as he hands it out.
In these lines, the speaker presents contrasting viewpoints on how to approach life and its challenges. Some people advocate for strict standards and discipline, while others suggest a more relaxed, go-with-the-flow attitude. However, the speaker introduces a third perspective embodied by a person who advises taking life as it comes, but this advice is presented with a hint of irony as this individual appears to dispense opportunities or challenges arbitrarily.
The poem explores various life advice perspectives, highlighting the importance of discipline, laissez-faire, and the irony of the third perspective. It suggests that the advice may be cynical and may involve manipulation or unpredictability. The speaker criticizes the third perspective, arguing that it may involve manipulation or unpredictability. The poem encourages readers to consider the motivations and consequences of each perspective, urging them to reflect on the wisdom and fairness of the advice they receive and the impact it may have on their lives.
I wish I could be a Wise Woman smiling endlessly, vacuously like a plastic flower, saying Child, learn from me.
In these lines, the speaker expresses a desire to embody the archetype of a “Wise Woman” who appears to be endlessly cheerful and wise, akin to a plastic flower. The speaker wishes to offer guidance and wisdom to others, symbolized by the phrase “saying Child, learn from me.”
The poem expresses the speaker’s longing for wisdom and guidance, aiming to be a source of inspiration or mentorship. However, the image of a “Wise Woman” is ironic and ambiguous, suggesting superficial or artificial wisdom. The contrast between appearance and reality raises questions about the authenticity of wisdom. The speaker’s desire to impart knowledge to younger generations suggests a nurturing role. The poem critiques societal expectations and stereotypes associated with wise individuals, challenging the idea that wisdom is solely about appearance. The poem prompts reflection on the authenticity of wisdom, appearance, and the aspiration for transformation.
It’s time to perform an act of charity to myself, bequeath the heart, like a spare kidney – preferably to an enemy.
In these lines, the speaker reflects on the importance of showing kindness and charity to oneself. They liken this act to bequeathing one’s heart, suggesting a willingness to give of oneself, even to an enemy, as a symbolic gesture of self-care and self-compassion.
The poem suggests that one should be kind to oneself by highlighting the value of self-compassion and self-care. “Bequeathing the heart” is a metaphor for being willing to give something personal, even to an adversary. The decision to donate to an enemy is thought-provoking, emphasizing the need for self-compassion and unconditional love. The poem adds depth and symbolic richness by contrasting self-charity with conventional charity. It’s important to practice self-compassion, as the sentence “It’s time” implies a turning point in the speaker’s life.