Keki N. Daruwalla’s The Unrest of Desire : Explanation, Summary and Analysis



Table of Contents

‘The unrest of desire’ (the title) – the restlessness
caused by an fulfilled desire; the uneasiness caused by a desire for something.
Is lit up with eyes’ – is expressed
through the expression in the eyes. The idea is that
any desire, which
one feels strongly, finds an expression through the eyes. A man’s eyes show
that he is experiencing some strong desire.
‘Mask’ – disguise; veil
covering the face.
slap upon your face’
– you emphatically bring to your face. Whatever the method
which one may adopt in order to conceal a certain desire, the desire would find
its expression through a man’s eyes. A man may try to hide a desire by putting
on a false expression on his face, but it would become perceptible in his eyes.
slabs of concrete’
– under a thick cover. “Slabs of concrete”
is a metaphorical expression to convey the idea of something weighty and heavy
to press down a feeling.
‘A coil of bone’ – another
metaphorical phrase to mean the same thing, namely a heavy pressure to suppress
a desire.
‘Wall’ -This word is here
used as a verb meaning “to build a wall” (around a desire and thus to
keep it hidden).
‘The cave-impulse at the mouth’ – the outlet through the mouth. A man may
keep his mouth shut but the desire in his heart would yet find an expression
through his eyes.
‘Etch’ – inscribe; dig
lines on a wall in order to sketch the outlines of a picture or to draw the
picture in full.
‘Your drives’ —your compelling desires; your forceful desires.
Aborigine’ – primitive.
‘Bison’ -wild ox ikad.
‘Stag’—a kind of deer with
several horns grow
ing on its head
‘Charcoal lines’ – lines drawn with a
piece of charcoal.
‘Loping – running at a fast
‘Bison and stag loping in charcoal lines’ – fast-running animals depicted
on the wall of a cave with charcoal.
‘Erase’ – efface; remove.
‘The burn’ – the mark left on
the flesh
by a fire
‘It will char your dreams’ – The mark of the fire will even scorch your dreams. The
idea is that the intensity of a desire would even haunt a man’s


A strong desire makes
a man somewhat uneasy. He may try to keep desire hidden in his heart but it
would manifest itself in some way through the expression in his eyes. The
nature of his desire would not, of course, becomes known to anybody, but the
fact that there is a desire in a man’s heart would definitely become known to
others who happen to see him and the expression in his eyes. A man may wear a
mask or may throw some sort of disguise over the expression of his face, but he
would not be able to mask the expression in his eyes.

A man may put his heart’s desire under some heavy weight like that of a slab of cement or a large heap of bones, but his eyes would betray the fact that there is a desire in his heart. A man may keep his mouth shut, but the desire in his heart would somehow escape his heart and enter his eyes and thus become visible. A man may adopt any other methods which may occur to him to disguise the state of his heart, but it would still show itself in his eyes. A man may draw all sorts of pictures with a piece of charcoal on the walls of a cave in order to give a false representation of his desire; but it would never quit his heart and would even haunt him in his dreams.


This is a poem with a
strong psychological interest. It describes a man’s incapacity to suppress a
desire or to keep it hidden under some assumed expression on his face. A desire
would never fail to manifest itself through the expression in a man’s eyes. Of
course anybody looking at such a man may not be able to understand or guess the
nature of his desire, but he would definitely come to know that there is a
desire in his heart. This fact would become known to him by his merely looking
into the eyes of the man concerned. The eyes would provide some sort of
evidence of the existence on a desire in the man’s heart.

The idea expressed in this poem is an abstract one; but much concrete imagery has been used in the poem. Eyes manifesting the unrest of desire mask being thrust upon a face; the salt-blood being probed with an insist tongue; a desire being pressed down with the weight of cement slabs or of bones: bison and stag being traced on a wall with charcoal all these concrete pictures to build up which the poet has used metaphorical language.


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