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Kamala Das
Kamla Das, the poetess in this poem talks about the eternal fear of a child of losing the security and haven (the place where you are loved and secured) of the love and warm especially of one’s mother. The protest on a visit to her hometown is driving back with her hometown is driving back with her mother to go back to the Calcutta. As they traverse the long, beautiful landscape of the green fields and waving coconut palm trees, she sees her mother besides her dozing the mother sleeps on, with her mouth open, her face devoid of energy and the color of life “Looked Ashen” and the poetess realizes the bang of sorrow that she might loose her soon to death. The ageing mother who is miserably old is engrossed her thought and the poetess willfully puts away the thoughts of the impending death of her mother. The poetess give very graphic and vivid comparison between the old age of a mother and the swift passage of time “Trees sprinting” and the energy and exuberance of happy children running out of their homes. The thought of death crops up again in the poetess’s mind at the airport security check when she is bidding farewell to her mother. Once again the face of a mother with a wan look is compared to a late winters moon and the fear cribs her heart again that she might not see her mother on her return. But to keep pretence, she says carefully that she would see her soon and gives smile after smile. Her smile actually cannot conceal the fear that has been growing her since childhood that she might loose her mother one day. But her optimism is enlightened through her parting words, that she’s hopeful to see her mother fine and hearty when she revisits her.

Theme: The poem delves into the notion that ‘ageing and death’ are inevitable and harsh realities of life. The poem is a sensitive portrayal of a daughter’s feelings and concern. The mother’s face is described as ‘ashen like a corpse’ and ‘pale as a late winter’s moon’….. both of which imply death. The poem is a vivid description of every child’s common fear of losing one’s dear ones.


Q.1. What is the kind of pain and ache that the poet feels?

Ans. The poet’s mother is very old so she’s afraid that the mother might pass away soon. She suffers from the fear of losing her and finds it difficult to bear this pain. The poet is agonized at the thought of her mother’s death and she is equally helpless since she is unable to change the fate. The harsh and inevitable reality is inexplicable.

Q.2. Why are the young trees described as sprinting?

Ans. The poet is driving from her parents home to the airport. On the way, she looks at the trees. As the car is moving, the young trees have been described as sprinting. The poet uses youthful and exuberant imagery in contrast to the weak and inactive mother.

Q.3. Why has the poet brought in the image of the merry children spilling out of their homes?

Ans. The poet’s mother is old, wan and pale while the children described in the poem are merry and energetic. In order to contrast between the two, the poet has brought about the image of children, who are swift, Joyful and exuberant.

Q.4. Why has the mother been compared to the late winters moon?

Ans. The mother has been compared to the late winters moon because she has turned sixty six and looks much pale and withered just as the winters moon looks under mist. Both the late winters moon as well as the mother are in late stages of their lives. Her miserable ageing condition goes will with the late wintry moon both of which imply death.

Q.5. What do the parting words of the poet and her smile signify?

The poet finds it very difficult not to think about her mother’s death. So, at the time of parting she just smiled and leaving her mother in the hope that would meet her soon. Thus, her parting words signify that she’s not hopeful to see her mother again, but wishes to meet her soon. Her optimism is highlighted since she’s hopeful to see her mother soon though she’s resorting to escapism to avoid the gruesome reality of life.

Q.6. Write the theme of the poem ‘My Mother At Sixty-Six’?

Ans. The poem delves into the notion that ‘Ageing and Death’ are inevitable and harsh realities of life. The poem is a sensitive portrayal of a daughter’s feelings and concern. The mother’s face is described as ‘Ashen like a corpse and pale as a late winter’s moon’ … both of which implies death. The poet is a vivid description of every child’s common fear of losing one’s dear ones.


1. Agonized = Pained

2. Inexplicable = Something which cannot be explained

3. Exuberant = Lively

4. Wan = Colourless

5. Withered = Miserable

6. Gruesome = Unpleasant

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