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DateLine Sunday, 26 August 2007

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English literature - Poets and poetry:

Jean Arasanayagam

Jean Arasanayagam is a popular Sri Lankan poet, with a large number of poems to her credit.

Jean Arasanayagam won the National award for Literature in 1984. She is a burger lady married to a tamil gentleman. Being subjected to racial violence in 1983 she had the most tragic and bitter experience in refugee camps. The period she stayed in refugee camps influenced her to a great extent innovating her to write poetry, rather biased but keeping alive the literary value of her poems.

"THE RUINED GOPURAM" her famous poem is a description of a Hindu Temple destroyed during disturbance of the PEACE by a crowd.

She has described the Hindu Temple ruined to pieces crating the most appropriate image of the temple and making her own comment on the people who underwent acute torture and suffering; yet, saving their faith in their God authentically.

The poet's descriptions are exclusively her own technique, vivid, picturesque and appealing, touching, arousing the reader's feelings, anxiety and sympathy. Jean's opening line is exceptional.

In her popular poem Ruined Gopuram the scene of the once beautiful landscape "white sands and palmyra fonds", "freakishly black" highlighting the unusual atmosphere prevailing.

"All evening the pyres burn". The enemy had riotously ruined not only the Hindu Temple but the lives of a large number of people keeping the pyres burn. The poet's wording is superb.

"Beside the broken walls" The word BROKEN signifying the pathetic situation of the whole procedure - The temple ruined and scattered resulting in sad and deep mental unrest. The brightness of the whole place is blurred, confused and devastated. IMAGERY created by the poet is exceptional.

".... the turquoise seats bright with morning sun dimmed and Went black" Suggesting the sudden change of the scene from brightness to darkness. Darkness prevailing not only in Gopuram but to the people there in "The goddess guardian of the fresh waterspring is silent" the faith of the people in their God cannot be ruined.

"The Brahmin chants his pooja to the Gods camphor and incense stream out of the stone door into the evening light".

Jean's superb symbolism and wording add meaning and glamour to the poem. "The SILENT BELL IS CRACKED" failing to announce its symbolic presence at a temple. Jean Arasanayagam's diction style is superb yet simple inclining to arouse the reader's emotions.

Her use of imagery - verbal images, auditory and visual images are effectively created to bring out meaning and feeling inviting the reader share the poet's experience of facing mayhem.

Jean's poem "IN THE MONTH OF JULY is also close to 'RUINED GOPURAM' in expression description of a man trying to escape his pursuers and how he got himself subjected to bitter attack by mob, ending in death.

Jean Arasanayagam's poems seem to inculcate in the hearts of the people kindness, sympathy and understanding erasing the evil effects of hatred especially racial discrimination.

Jean Arasanayagam's elegant wording, symbolism, imagery, presentation, freshness of vision her sensitivity maintain her place as popular poet.

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