Immortal poet of Colombo period
Wimalarathna Kumaragama was an outstanding poet belongs to Colombo
period. This remarkable poet passed away 49 years ago. But the
interesting and meaningful poetry books written by him lives on in the
hearts of connoisseurs. Kumaragama may be considered as an immortal
poet. He rendered a great service for the betterment of Sinhala poetry.
Kumaragama was born on January 18, 1919, at Narampanawa in the
Pathadumbara area. His primary education was at Rahula College,
Katugastota. Later he entered to the Dharmaraja College, Kandy. This
student excelled academically among other students in the class. Young
Kumaragama got through the matriculation examination well. Later in
1942, he was recruited to the state clerical service. His first
appointment was given to the Anuradhapura secretariat.
Later he was fortunate enough to win the examination which was held
for enrolling divisional revenue officers. As a result of this victory,
he was able to assume duties in the field. This talented officer served
in many areas of the Island. Young Kumaragama began to impress those
around him as a poet. He worked for a long period in the Vanni areas.
He gained more experience regarding people who lived in those areas.
These experiences helped him to be a cut above other poets. His
commitment to writing poetry is unbelievable. Kumaragama's poetic
creations have drawn sustenance through rich experiences gained from the
Kumaragama had a compassionate heart. He also possessed a more
imposing physical personality than other poets in the Colombo period. He
had a vast knowledge regarding both Sinhala and English literature. He
used his multitude of experiences absorbed from the Vanni areas to
create poems. Kumaragama had a distinct ability to create prosodic
poems. He wrote a class of poems named ‘Sanwega Darsana’ in 1935. Then
in 1940, a collection of poetry named ‘Sanwega Wedana’ was written by
him. ‘Hapumali’ is another mellifluous poetry book written by this poet.
Some distinct features could be noted in Kumaragama's anthologies.
One of those features is sincerity. The sincere experiences gathered
from the Vanni areas were incorporated into his poems.
Another feature that could be seen in Kumaragama's poetry books is
humanism. He was a fine human being. This versatile poet loved the
villagers, fauna and flora in the remote areas. In my view, he is only
second to foreign writers like Leonard Wolf and R L Spittle in his
humanistic writing. This poet is fond of the villagers in
Aliyawetunwewa. The people who lived in this, had to face many
difficulties. It was very difficult to find even a drop of water due to
the severe drought in the area. People always struggled to maintain
their day to day activities. Kumaragama had a good outlook to the
realities of the people's lives in those areas.
He used simple language in his work. This simple language assist to
generate suggestive meanings. The following poem is a good example.
“Weli maavath lesin ethi gan ho dolaya unusuma uraa bee gathi wewala
jalaya thena thena gasaagena yanaviyalunakolaya giniyam sulanga thula
eta ledakara balaya.”
This poem finely projects the environment which was burnt due to the
severe drought. Kumaragama does not say directly that the land has dried
out. River and streams are seen as sand avenues.
Although Kumaragama was a genius in the field of poetry, he was a
bachelor. He had composed only a few poems related to pure love. Many
poets belonging to the Colombo period have used impromptu verses. But,
Kumaragama has neglected impromptu verses.
This veteran poet passed away on December 29, 1962 at 43. His demise
is a great loss to the country. There may be poets in the future but,
they will not surpass Kumaragama. Modern poets should study his
creations and contribute to Sinhala literature.