Poetry for pleasure | Sunday Observer

Poetry for pleasure

5 June, 2021

Poetry does not appeal to many people because of its peculiar way of saying things, strongly marked rhythm, frequent appearance of rhyme and the figurative language which may seem somewhat odd and distracting. On the other hand, poetry does not have a story or any useful information. However, poetry has existed from time immemorial in some form or another. In order to appreciate poetry you have to read and reflect on it.

Rhythm is nothing new to us. All our expressions such as love, hate or pain have a rhythmic pattern. In poetry rhythm expresses emotions. Rhyme too has a direct connection with human emotions and it is closely related to rhythm. Rhymes help us to remember tongue-twisters such as “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”

There are hints of a story in some poems but they do not make sense. Unless you are a regular reader of poems, nothing will trigger your imagination. Poets also use metaphors which may seem decorative and superfluous. You may find it difficult to understand poetry because it is concerned with the massiveness and the multidimensional quality of human experience.

Ranjan M. Amarasinghe’s poems appear in newspapers and magazines regularly. His earlier anthologies “The spectre of Aggression” (2005) and “A crisis of civilization” (2012) received rave reviews in the press. His third anthology “A pursuit of happiness” (Godage publication) contains 44 poems embracing a wide variety of topics.

The poem “A pursuit of happiness” describes a man disturbed by his feelings. Expressions such as “frightening thunder, virtually imprisoning me” and “sound of rainfall in torrents” give us a feeling of utter desolation. The poet’s mind traverses the past with a feeling of nostalgia. He remembers his “enigmatic African damsels” (found in several poems), but age has tempered his vision.

In “A moment of reflection” the poet questions himself whether he has succeeded in life. Most of us face this situation. However much you are educated or have gained public encomiums, you get a nagging feeling that you have missed something in life. He has successfully depicted the frustration in a few lines.

In “A lover’s woeful lament” the poet has universalized a personal experience. Sometimes past memories come rushing to us when we read old diaries. I found the following lines quite memorable:

“I was amazed to see
The petals of a red rose
Shrivelled with age
Wafting no more fragrance.”

In some poems the author shows his maturity as a poet. I enjoyed reading “An ode to freedom” which is a word-perfect poem. He writes:

“My heart is a harp
Seeking ecstatic joy
Like a carefree bird
Flying towards the
Azure sky fluttering its
Wings in unison”

Although our interest in poetry has somewhat declined over the years, there are still a few people who do not hesitate in buying a book of poetry. It is not possible to answer the question whether poetry is worthwhile and whether you can do or cannot do without it. As for me, I have loved poetry since the days of my first nursery rhyme.

It is a good sign that there are few poets who keep on writing poetry, but there seems to be a shortage of competent people to criticize and teach poetry in schools and universities. This may be due to the fact that poetry has not kept pace with other forms of literature which have developed by leaps and bounds.

Today most local poets do not write narrative or dramatic poetry and they confine themselves to write lyric poetry. Even William Wordsworth was a lyric poet who wrote poems to express his emotions and feelings. Poets are the pioneers and explorers in the world of feelings. A poet’s experience may have something to do with our own feelings.

Poets such as Ranjan M. Amarasinghe are impelled to write poems without concerning themselves with financial gains. The English language has yielded enough poetry to inspire any budding poet to express his emotions. Amarasinghe seems to have been inspired by leading English poets to some extent as he too writes poetry for pleasure but not profit.

[email protected]