Inner bliss as poetic expressions
Kodituwakku has brought out another collection of poems titled as
Mahateku Siti Hondin (A Gentleman Stays Well). For me it is not just
another collection, as one would find gauging the number of poetry
collections that flood the Sinhala literary scene today.
I will try my best to clarify my stand on this collection, as I took
more time relaxed to enjoy the pieces one by one. At the outset I must
state that as poetry is meant to be enjoyed silently, especially the
type of free verse that one comes across in the collection. A hasty
judgment may not be too sound. The hallmark taking a synoptic view as
regards all these poems is the capture of vivid innerness in human
Take for instance the opening title poems. It is the routine
lifestyle of a gentleman accustomed to stereotype patterns of living.
Resembling more to a prose parable the protagonist is an elderly man
He is relaxed. He concentrates on the optimistic side of the life.
His telephone conversation with his son ends up with the same tone of
optimism, life is good. He goes on reading the same type of books and
magazines. He sings while he takes a shower in the bathroom. He eats the
same kind of food for all his meals. He hears a character that in many
ways are dissimilar to other around. As such he looks a stranger or an
outsider. His drinking habit too is different from others and akin to
himself. The entire poem rests on an ironic level of expression.
It is the subtext or the inner text that runs in between and behind
lines that matter. This is a portrait of a vanishing clan of
individuals. I was reminded of W. H. Auden's poem 'The Unknown Citizen'.
The gentleman Kehelkaduwa, in many ways, is the person in Auden's poem.
Panividayak is a sensitive event where the person sees a stray dog or
a creature faced with disaster at one's doorstep trying or pleading the
sympathy. But can this be materialized? It is the sensitive manner in
which the poet sees the event that matters. He has a series of thoughts
of floods his mind on looking at the stray creature that had come to
obtain a helping hand.
The poem Mahabelma (The Great Vision) recreates symbolically the
erection of a gigantic Buddha statue, where artisans and other workers
toil hard to build a statue. Once the statue is built it is almost
likely that the man owner is being watched by the Buddha himself
silently and serenely. The poet recreates the wonder of a creative
process unsurpassed in a world of trivialities. If possible, I sincerely
feel that this is the type of creative poetry that should be translated
for readers abroad, to gauge the creative abilities of the local poets.
A similar thing is tonal beauty in poems like Pahana Nonivi hinting
the colossal devastations caused by natural disasters, while the
memories of those who are caught in that web remain memorable for years
The poem titled Kepuna Snayuva or 'The Severed Nerve' to give a
literal meaning is the most admirable and resourceful creation in the
collection. The poet characterizes the inner feelings of a father who
leaves the domestic front in search of better academic opportunities to
find himself left as if dismembered sensitively from a family bond.
The paternal love over-pervades the material gains and opportunities.
The father is left abandoned pondering as to how this sensitive
operation of a missing link took place. The manner of an inner lament
embodies the whole structure of the poetic creation. He suspects as a
father whether some sort of added attraction, hinting on a love episode
may have taken place for the silence on the part of the son.
Kodituwakku's poems, as I have noted even in his earlier works, is a
fusion of religiosity and materialism, linking various diametrically
opposed entities. His forte is the inner quest. This factor is depicted
in a more advanced manner in the poem titled Hadavate Handa Shabda
(Sounds of the Heart). It is more likely a monologue of a person on a
journey in search of his own loneliness. I present the mood of the poem
in the following manner for purpose of clarification.
Let's meet again I said
I'll not come again
I should have said
After long time, you said
You were in a dream, I would have said
Let's forget, said I
Blood smears from the wound, I would have said
Sorry about that
But I would have said
It's an action that cannot be forgiven.
Life is like that, though I said
Life is more pleasant, I would have said.
The original poet would never forgive me for the literal rendering.
All I wanted is to show how the inner monologue of the poetic persona is
expressed. For me the experience is quite touching and packed with a
dialectical situation, transcending the common expression of love.
Poetry can always be misunderstood especially in translation.
This collection too embraces some of the adaptation of the poet from
his favourite sources abroad. Perhaps reason is to show that poetry is a
universal human expression. It is not the original source that matters,
but the way it is rendered to the local reader. The poet Kodituwakku had
excelled in the direction in his work Rashmi, which is a work that
deserves a rediscovery on the part of the local scholar and literal
Taking a synoptic view of the entire picture created in the
collection of those poems, I felt that the poet Kodituwakku is giving
the reader a creative gift. He seems to be murmuring the following
Read my poems, again and again. Keep your head straight. Don't be
swayed by various extraneous forces around you. Let my poems help you
gain new insights into life. The last poem Kaviyek Ena Thuru epitomizes
the vision. The poetic diction he uses is indicative of the inspiration
drawn form the classics of Sinhala literature. This is for the most part
neglected by the modern day Sinhala poet. Kodituwakku's attempt as a
whole is the search for a new vision of expression despite the prose