Poetic metamorphosis | Daily News

Poetic metamorphosis

The eleventh collection of Sinhala poems authored by the well-known poet, columnist and theatre personality, Buddhadasa Galappatti, is out. It is titled E Asisimat Nonagataya (indicated in English as That Inauspicious Time), a collection of thirty-six poems. He has triggered off with two other contemporaries bringing out a collaborative collection of poems titled Dolos Mahe Pahana. The two others happened to be the well known cultural celebrities in our country: the late Dr Jayalath Manoratne and Professor Sunil Ariyaratne.

Since then, Buddhi, as he is better known, has been in the field of print, sound and visual, bringing out various types of creations inclusive of short stories, short narratives, columns of varying types and belles lettre writings on contemporary issues such as literary trends and cross-cultural events that emerge from time to time.


Lamentable expressions

Most poems included in the present collection revolve around various human experiences that occurred during the corona time that still persists. He, as a poet, attempts to create a poetic persona, who at times visualizes the commonplace news items that appear in media channels. Then he makes use of them as expressive and perhaps lamentable expressions, reminiscent in the folk ballads. The opening poem titled Nutana Maha Mayava Dutu Sihinaya (The Dream of the Present Day Maya). The poem is a depiction of the female desire to give birth to a child in a climate of opinion that holds negative medical advice.

There are several mini poems created taking into account, the aspect of love and desire, especially in the form of monologues and dialogues. In several mini poems that run to four to six lines, the poet expresses the nuances of desire, affection, lust and the memorable moments to gifts of nature such as plants, flowers and the changing aspect as observable in the earth.

As a creative sensitive individual, the poet cannot possibly overshadow some of the social experiences such as lootings, bomb shelling, killings, burnings and other human ordeals. As such, quite a number of creations emerge tainted with these events, at times garbed in mere reporting of events. One example is the poem titled Maranaya (Death). The poet attempts his poetic vision to a wider gamut when he selects the expressive mode that is similar to the age-old folk rhythm and observable in the poem titled Nirodhayana Kavi (Quarantine Poems). The poetic licence may allow the kind of expression of modernity via the age-old rhythmic pattern.


Age-old traditional patterns

It is assured that no critic can easily prevent a creator of poems from abhorring the instinct that lay varied in one’s innermost layer of experiences that compels him or her to express. As such, the age-old traditional patterns of expression may be a compelled need for creativity. Most poems are expressive features that lay buried in family relationships such as paternal love, maternal love, expressions of some of the daughters on the loss of their valued siblings.

Several poetic creations express mere thoughts and feelings devoid of a subtle turn of sentiments. They could be classified in the more traditional form as Chinta Kavi or the poems that pave the way for thoughts and ponderings, rather than human experiences of complexity.

The best creation in the collection, according to my selection, is the poem titled Ma Kotenada (Where am I?). The poetic persona in a sensitive metaphysical mode of questioning asks several questions as to who he is and where he is. The poem goes on in this manner.

Closer to a lightless
Lamppost, besides, a damsel
Who gazes afar,
See whether I am there!
Forgetting the family members
Past midnight as drunk
Creating a noise on the part of tipplers in a pub
See whether I am there
In a busy town
In a lousy subway
I the end of a row of houses,
Sleeping in a mood of
Disarrayed humans, with beings like men,
women and kids see whether I am there!
In a crowd of devotees
Both males and females
In a temple with a Bo tree
Swamped with the tender
Shower of full moonbeams
Where some are in a meditative mood
See whether I am there!
If you fail to meet me in
Any of these places,
See whether I am lurking
Within your innermost heart!




This literal translation of the original Sinhala poem may not help you to gauge the subtleties laid in the original creation. This is one of the reasons why Robert Graves the poet pronounced that poetry is what is lost in the translation process. I feel that Graves gives way to more contemplation than we imagine. Even it is observed that folk ballads in a particular culture cannot be well translated into another language in another culture. But the discerning truth is that we in a globalised frame of reference do need poetry in translation. It is a need from time to time to proceed with the studies in cross-cultural communication studies. As such it is not like the poems of Buddhi that matters but several other poetic works ought to be translated to feel the pulse of the contemporary conscience of the creativity in a given time. I also feel that though the poetry in translation loses the tenor of its originality, may help feel there the poetic creator stands in the contemporary scene of a changing world.

The stance of the poet, as well as the poetic creations, changes in keeping with the impending challenges. Today, lack very much a whole view of poetry and have instead many one-sided views of certain aspects of poetry which have been advertised as the only aims which poets should attempt.

- Stephen Spender (The Making of a Poem)


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