Introduction

Judging one thing with reference to another is an error. Mere appearances of people should not mislead us about them, particularly poets. They may look shabby or behave strangely but their poems may be great works of art. We cannot, therefore, assess them only by their looks.

About the Poet

Eunice de Souza (1940 – 2017) was an Indian poet, writer and critic who wrote in the English language. Some of her famous works are Ways of Belonging, Women in Dutch PaintingLearn from the Almond Leaf and These are my Words.

Theme

The main theme of the poem is the difference between appearances and reality, and the confusion this creates in relation to poets.

Poem

Meeting poets I am disconcerted sometimes:
By the colour of their socks,
The suspicion of a wig,
The wasp in the voice,
And an air, sometimes of dankness.

Best to meet in poems:
Cool speckled shells
In which one hears
A sad but distant sea.

The poet says that when she meets poets, she is sometimes confused and unsettled by the colour of their socks, the suspicion that they might be wearing a wig, the waspy sound of their voice, and an air of being cold and unpleasant. Therefore, the exterior appearance of poets might be unsettling.

So, the poet says that it is best to meet poets in their poems. She describes these poems as cool speckled shells in which one hears a sad but distant sea. Thus, poems are a manifestation of a poet’s sadness and innermost thoughts.