The Maggots

The poem Maggots by Kamala Das describes an incidence when Krishna and Radha met on a river bank in a forest. Krishna was going to leave her and thus he met her for the last time. Though he was kissing her, Radha was not feeling it. Krishna asked her if anything was wrong with her, she told him that his kisses are like maggots on a corpse.

The poem throws light on some dark realities of human nature. The poet is not just talking about Krishna and Radha but about her own life as well which I will try explaining below.

The Maggots Poem Summary

The poet says that it was sunset when Krishna meet Radha on the bank (ban either means forest or it is the short form of bank). It was the last time of him meeting her and also loving her.

The poet uses a number of images to describe the situation there. Sunset symbolises doom and darkness which is about come soon. River bank symbolises the rapidly passing time. Time was also running fast like the water in the river.

At this time, Krishna was trying to love her for the last time after which he was going to leave her. An important question arises here – what does ‘love’ mean here? How a person can love someone last time. I think the poet is using the word for physical love.

Though Krishna was trying to make her feel better, Radha felt so dead and not responding to his love-making and kisses which made Krishna ask her what was wrong with her.

To this she replied “no,not at all” Instead his kisses feel her like maggots (insects which eat dead and decaying bodies) on the corpse. Here the poet uses two images – maggots and corpses. Maggots eat corpse but the later is dead and cannot feel that.

Thus his kisses are in no way good but like maggots as they are killing her but her body has become dead like corpse and cannot feel the pain of his kisses.

The Maggots Poem Analysis

Now we know that Kamala Das was a Confessional Poet and hence this poem describes her own miserable condition as well. In her poem “An Introduction“, she tells how after marriage, her husband came, had sex with her and went away.

There was no love, no feeling and no emotion. Thus his love-making (reflecting the patriarchal norms) was like quenching his own se xual thirst and leaving Kamala without feeling loved. Like Krishna’s love, her husband’s love was also like maggots on a corpse.

She was dead-like after her marriage and his husband’s kisses and love-making didn’t have any effect on her though they were painful for her.