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The Poet’s Lament


There is no use

Sitting alone in the darkness

And crying and sobbing

Your crying cannot be heard

Your tears will not be seen


You try to give life to a dead bird

But you are not Brahma, the lord of life

You are not the only one who tried to shake the earth

With tightened throat and breath held back

Till your lungs almost burst


You are one grain of sand on the beach

Just one drop of water from a hidden ever flowing spring

Like you hundreds and thousands

Have wailed around a corpse

Valmiki did so, and Kalidasa


You can try to teach us to soar in the blue skies

But we remain still sunk on earth.

You can try to bring us the sun and the moon and the stars

But we still seek only the garbage around us


Fallen to earth with a thud, shot down with feathers broken


His eyes closed over the corpse

Man goes back and forth

And the words that once spread sweetness

Like damp stale smelling flowers

Now rot and stink


Words once had eyes and ears

And breath went up and down

And we can see the old sparkling face, worn out as it is

They laughed and sang

And have now fallen and faded away


There is no use

Crying and sobbing

Sitting alone in the darkness…


Translated by Manoj Ariyaratne



On a Rainy Day


on a rainy day

the stalk blowing in the paddy field

yearned to kiss the Sun

it told the leaves

who, elated, whispered it

to the branches

and the wind sped

to broadcast the news


the weaver-birds

tore their wings

to aid the flight


the leeches volunteered

to shoulder the burden

that had turned heavier in the heavy rain


the bees collected nectar from the pumpkin blossoms

the sea-horse dipped itself

in the receding waters

dived deep

and came up with pearls


blushing, the butterflies

penned a beautiful poem

with a fresh pattern


drenched in the pouring rain

water dripping down its cheek

the stalk bent over

dragging the Sun with it

laid it flat

and kissed it


Translated by S Pathmanathan





Tormented between two noises

the infant Gemunu

on one side inarticulate sea

on the other the Tamil raging.


And he crouched in bed

listening to the voices

which bade him rise

and drive out from his native land

the stranger chattering gibberish


How much of waste

And trouble of bright swords

stream of bloodshed reeking

in the aboriginal darkness

of a child’s fear