My Mother at Sixty-Six: Poetic Devices CBSE Class 12 English Poem Poetic Devices

“My Mother at Sixty-Six”: Poetic Devices: Poetic devices are an important tool for poets to express themselves and engage with their readers or listeners. They can elevate the language of a poem and make it more impactful, memorable, and emotionally resonant. Here we discuss the structure of and the poetic devices used in the poem “My Mother at Sixty-Six”.

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Structure of the Poem “My Mother at Sixty-Six”

The poem “My Mother at Sixty-Six” by Kamala Das has a free verse structure, which means that it does not have a fixed rhyme or meter. However, the poem does have a distinctive structure that conveys the poet’s emotions.

The poem has a narrative structure and is written in the first person. The poet describes her journey from her parent’s home to Cochin and her observations of her mother during the journey. The poem is divided into two stanzas. The first stanza describes the poet’s initial observations of her mother, and the second stanza describes her feelings and emotions towards her mother.

There is no specific rhyme scheme in the poem. However, the poet uses several literary devices such as imagery, metaphor, and repetition to create an emotional impact on the reader. The poet uses imagery to describe her mother’s appearance, comparing her face to that of a corpse, and her skin to that of a late winter’s moon. The poet also uses metaphor to describe her emotions, comparing her childhood fear to an “old familiar ache.”

The repetition of the word “smile” in the last line of the poem emphasizes the conflict between the poet’s emotions and her attempt to hide them. The use of ellipses at the end of the poem suggests that the poet is unable to express her emotions fully, and that there is much left unsaid.

In fact, the structure and language of the poem reflect the poet’s complex emotions towards her mother, conveying both love and fear, and the struggle to express these emotions.

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Summary & Explanation of “My Mother at Sixty-Six”

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Poetic Devices in the Poem “My Mother at Sixty-Six”

The poem “My Mother at Sixty-six” by Kamla Das makes use of several poetic devices. Here are some examples:

Imagery: The poet uses vivid images to describe her mother’s appearance and surroundings to create a picture of the scene. 

For instance, she describes her mother’s face as “ashen like that of a corpse” and “wan, pale as a late winter’s moon.” She also describes “Young Trees sprinting” and “the merry children spilling out of their homes.”

Metaphor: The poet uses a metaphor to describe her mother’s face as “ashen like that of a corpse.” This comparison helps to convey the idea that her mother looks frail and lifeless.

Simile: The comparison of the mother’s face to that of a late winter’s moon is a simile, which highlights the pallor and lack of vibrancy in her appearance.

Personification: The poet personifies the trees as “sprinting” to show their liveliness and youthfulness.

Alliteration: The repetition of the “s” sound in “I said was, see you soon, Amma” 

“smile and smile and smile” – repetition of the “s” sound in “smile”.

Repetition: thought away ……. thought away, | smile and smile and smile

The repetition of the word “smile” at the end of the poem creates a sense of emotional tension. The poet seems to be trying to put on a brave face and hide her true feelings about her mother’s aging.

Enjambment: The lines of the poem are not end-stopped, meaning that the sentence or phrase continues onto the next line without a pause. This creates a sense of flow and movement in the poem, reflecting the movement of the car and the passing scenery.

Symbolism: The airport’s security check and the distance between the poet and her mother symbolize the physical and emotional distance that has grown between them over time.

Hyperbole: The poet uses hyperbole to emphasize her emotional response to seeing her mother in such a frail state. She describes feeling an “old familiar ache” and “childhood’s fear,” which suggests a deep-seated and intense emotional reaction.

Tone: The tone of the poem is contemplative and introspective, with the poet reflecting on her own feelings and perceptions of her mother’s aging.

Irony: The irony of the situation lies in the fact that the poet is driving her mother to the airport, but she is the one who feels left behind and disconnected from her mother.

Caesura: The use of the pause in the line “but all I said was, see you soon, Amma,” creates a break in the flow of the poem, emphasizing the significance of the moment.

Assonance: The repetition of the “o” sound in “doze, open mouthed” creates assonance, which adds a musical quality to the line and emphasizes the mother’s vulnerability and aging.

Use of ‘Ellipses’ (…) Narrative Device

In the poem “My Mother at Sixty-Six” by Kamala Das, the use of ellipses (…) at the end of the poem. The repetition of the word “smile” in the last line of the poem, followed by the ellipses, creates a sense of ambiguity of unresolved emotions. It suggests that the poet is trying to hide her emotions by smiling as the poet is unable to express her emotions fully leaving much left unsaid. 

The ellipses create a sense of hesitation and trailing off (becoming quiter and then stops), as if the poet is holding back her true feelings.

The use of ellipses in this poem helps to convey the complex emotions of the poet towards her mother, and creates a sense of tension and ambiguity that leaves the reader with a powerful emotional impression.

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