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Wimalaratne Kumaragama:

Wanni

A poem is a piece of creative writing in verse, especially expressing deep feelings or thoughts in beautiful poetic language to recount an experience.


Wimalaratne Kumaragama

Sri Lanka can proudly boast of many outstanding poets in our prestigious history, such as, Totagamuwe Sri Rahula, Vidagama Maitriya, King Parakramabahu II, Alagiyawanna Mukaveti etc.

Great poets

In the Colombo era, there were many illustrious poets, such as Munidasa Kumaratunga, G.H. Perera, Ananda Rajakaruna, Tibetan Bhikkhu S. Mahinda, Sagara Palansooriya (Keyes), Kapila Seneviratne, Meemana Prematilake, H.M. Kudaligama, P.B. Alwis Perera, John Rajadasa, Chandraratne Manawasinghe, Mahagama Sekera, Madawala S Ratnayake, Dr. Siri Gunasinghe and Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera (Nisades Kavi).

Wimalaratne Kumarage was a born poet who knew the pulse of the people of Wanni.

In his famous poem Sundarahami, he depicts the fine human qualities of simple villagers and their sense of hospitality, respect and kindness.

Pera Deka Nomati, Muth
Sundarahami Visin
Mage Toraturu Asuheti
Hitawateku Lesin
Gediyak Kadagena
Gemidula Tambili Gasin
Piliganviya Mata Somnasa
Pirunu Hitin

In his poem, Kumaragama highlights the character of Herathhami, who assists the Judicial Medical Officer who held postmortems.

Aliya Wetunu Wewa Siti
Herathhami
Mavanneku Uvada Mama
Wedagath Vimi
Minikapana Muth Ee
Herathhami
Ohu Mata Wada
Visitisgunayen Dehami

In this poem he gives an idea of social revolutionary thinking for a classless society and its importance.

Creative poet

His first appointment as a clerk was at Anuradhapura Kachcheri. Wimalaratne Kumeragama possessed a lovable personality. In no time, he won the heart of his officers as well as the villagers. He lost his sister when he was at Anuradhapura in the mid 1930s. Based on her tragic death, he wrote a poetry book titled Sanwega Vedana. He displayed his poetic talent in his treatise on his sister.

Sihinen Pava Nothelu
Anikekuge Hita
Ganaran Kandha Ada
Oba Bolanda Pana
Amaranganavan Ekatuwa
Thurulu Una
Obagen Ane Iwarai Ma
Karapu Pina
Celestial abode

In this verse, Kumaragama expresses in a very subtle manner that his sister has joined the celestial abode.

In 1942, he passed the competitive examination and assumed duties as a Divisional Revenue Officer (D.R.O.) and served in Anuradhapura, Nuwara Eliya and Vanniya, where, he blossomed as a creative poet. Forest was his kingdom he loved most.

In his poem Valas Dadayama he has pictured how he and his companions witnessed the “bear hunt” sequence from a top of tree on a moonlit night.

Pulai-Mai Palugas
Debalaka Messe
Kadiya Samaga Sima
Ketawala Assse
Mehi Ati Hema Handata
Mage Hadawatha Gesse
Ada Handapaluwa Ada
Wanaroda Meda Isse

The poetic language he uses was so natural and the experience fantastic. The serene beauty of the forest bathing in the moonlight makes it a memorable picture in our mind.

Wordsworth

He was well versed in English and poetry. Once an English Government Agent at Sabaragamuwa, knowing that Kumaragama was a reputed Sinhala poet, was trying to show him that he too was English scholar quoted a poem and from Shakespeare in came the reply “Sir, the poem you quoted was from Wordsworth.”

He was a fine human being with a golden heart.

He lived a bachelor's life. When his pet-dog Neela died, he wrote these few sentimental lines:

Miyagiya Dina Tunakata
UdadhiWeti
Mage Endalangata Vee
Umba Duka Kiyapu Heti
Umba Gana Noyek De
situwili Matuwa Eti
Ubage Agaya Minisun siya
Deneku Vati
Mage Hadawata Etuluwa
Huratal Dawasa
Sita Newwehiya Tani
Jeewayaka Pawasa
Ma Setapena Atara
Kaluwara Kara Niwasa
Neela Mala Hatarata Eiye
Sawasa

These beautiful lines amply testify the kind heart of the poet Wimalaratne Kumaragama.

Villagers

The majority of his poems are woven around the simple lives of the villagers of Vanniya. His poems Hapumali and Herathhami, were brilliant pieces of literature. It depicts the true life of the Vanni villagers.

Hapumali, an innocent pretty girl leaves the village to work as a domestic aid in Colombo.

Sexually abused, she became an orphan with a child. The poems consists of 100 verses and its a pathetic story of a village beauty.

Bulatin Pehaya Leba
Tolpeti Deka Ratya
Gambada Nisa Ege
Avihinsaka Nethya
Ge Dora Siyalo Meheyata
Kadisara Athya
Duppath Unath Eya
Rupen Pohosathya

Wimalaratne Kumaragama – the “muse of remote Vanni,” was one of the most brilliant creative poets that Sri Lanka ever produced. He had his own inimitable style, beautiful, enchanting poetic language, greatly influenced by the culture and environment of Vanni.

His name and Vanni were inseparable. He felt the pulse of the innocent villagers of Vanniya.

He was born on January 18, 1919 at Narampanawa, Pathadumbara, Pallispattu Korale, in Kandy. His father was Punchi Bandara Kumaragama, mother K. H. Bandara Menike. Wimalaratne, was the second in a family of seven children.

He had his primary education at Werapitiya School, Madolkele, Kandy.

From 1923-1927, he studied at Teldeniya and Sri Rahula Vidyalaya, Katugastota. Later, he joined one of the “Crest-jewels of Buddhist education in Sri Lanka, Dharmaraja College, Kandy.

After passing the Senior Matriculation Examination Wimalaratne Kumaragama joined the clerical service. Later, he ended his career as an Assistant Government Agent.

Unassuming man

Wimalaratne Kumaragama was a fine human being. This unassuming poet was a simple man. The higher and higher he went up the ladder of his career as a Government servant, he never forgot his people.

There are some officers, when they assume high positions, they think no end of themselves. When such men fall, they fall into a drain and suffer.

This great poet, when serving at Anuradhapura Kachcheri, as AGA, used to have lunch with the clerks at the canteen.

One day, a pretty young girl, a clerk, requested him to recite a instant poem (Hitiwana Kaviya) about her. Kumaragama witty as ever, smiled and said: “Kelle, you are still a young girl and you are not married.

Therefore, I will recite only “Two lines” and not four-lines.

Nangi Innaheti Dekkama
Meseta Ana Ana
Matath Wediya Pinkala
Bhava Dene Mese Kona.

On a sunny afternoon, a farmer came to meet the Disapati Hamuduruwo. The farmer, was also a poet in his village.

When, he met Wimalaratne Kumaragama, he told him that he too is a poet and asked for Kumaragama's permission to present his problem in an Instant Poem. The old farmer, was making a complaint against his old wife. The farmer uttered:

Gatthe Car Ekak – Eya
Dennam Loriyak,
Loriyak Elavanna Mata
Dan Ne Piriyak,

Earlier I brought a car. But now its like a lorry. Now, I have no liking to drive a lorry.

Smilingly the poet Wimalaratne Kumaragama replied:
Grees Damala, Tela Dala Langata Ganin Lorriya
Car Ekata Wediya Hondin Edela Yavi Loriya

Service your lorry with greese and oil. Surely, your loriya will run smooth and fast than you old car.

 

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