Asiff Hussein, a Sri Lanka journalist and writer, wrote: The Sinhalese have, of all the arts, excelled in poetry. Sinhala, the language of the Sinhalese, is a poetical language. It lends itself easily to meter and rhyme due to its grammatical flexibility and rich vocabulary comprising of a large number of synonyms. Sinhala itself is a mellifluous language with a high vowel content and is comparable to French and Urdu, widely regarded to be the two most romantic languages in the world. [Source: Asiff Hussein, Explore Sri Lanka]

A specimen from a late 18th century poem, the "Kalingabodhi Jataka-Kava", a versified form of the story of Prince Sulukalingu contained in the "Kalingabodhi Jataka", composed by the poet Dunuvila will bear this out. Cited below is a quatrain from the poem describing the prince"s journey to the forest.

Nil digu varal kusuman benda gothala
Pul rathu upul mal savanata sadala
El gevi kal kiyana liyagi asala
Lol hera giye
Kumarindu mana pinala [The prince heard the heart-captivating songs of the pretty women in the fields of rice who had arranged their long flowing hair with flowers and tucked full blossomed red lotuses behind their ears, and went away, full of joy, but not captivated by them].

As may be gleaned from literary sources such as the "Pujavaliya" (13th century) the reign of King Aggabodhi I (568-601 ) was a period of great literary activity. Twelve famous poets, namely Demi, Bebiri, Kithsiri, Anuruth, Dalagoth, Dalasala, Dalabiso, Puravadu, Sakdamala, Asakdamala, Suriyabahu and Kesub-Kotha-Epa flourished during the king"s reign.

Early Sinhala Poetry

Newton Pinto wrote in "A Short History of Sinhalese Literature": The Siyabaslakara, the earliest extant poem is a work of Sena I, who ruled from 848 CE. Some hold that the writer was Sena II, however, the date suffers little change. This is a work on prosody which closely follows the Kâvydarsa of Dâdin. Here he refers to other works on prosody. The verses are unrhymed gä and many-lined sahalä. Both rhymed and unrhymed verses are found showing a considerable metrical and poetical skill, a product of earlier training and influence. This is a stanza using a two-letter combination.
nâ vana vi vana vana
navavinâ vana nä vana
vanano nivi nûnû vana
nâna nâ nava nivû ne vana
[Sources:"A Short History of Sinhalese Literature" by Newton Pinto (Colombo: M.D.Gunasena, 1954, no longer); "The Sinhalese" by Nandadeva Wijesekera (Colombo: Gunasena, 1990). Virtual Library Sri Lanka lankalibrary.com ]

The next work Dhampiya-atuvâ Gätapadaya, a glossarial commentary is a work of Kasyapa V (908-918 CE) as internal evidence shows. Pali words are used both in a modified and pure form while at times Sinhalese inflexions are added. Words in common use today such as kulla, panduru are used along with words now obsolete. The striking feature to be observed here is that this is also a work of a scholar king.

The sikhavalanda and the sikhavalanda vinisa are later in language and can hence be placed later. These works deal with rules regarding the conduct of monks who had received the higher ordination. The author is unknown, yet, he shows a thorough knowledge of the Vinaya. The rules enunciated and elucidated here agree with those of inscriptions. No exact date can be fixed for this work, yet it may be safely said to belong to the Anuradhapura period.

It may also be mentioned that in the earlier inscriptions do not mention Sinhala as the language and ethnicity of the people. This has been used by some propagandists to support the claims of separatists against the historic role of the Sinhalas in Sri Lanka.

See e.g. R. A. L. H. Gunawardana, "The People of the Lion: The Sinhala Identity and Ideology in History and Historiography", Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities Vol. V: 1-2, (1979) who claims that before the 12 century CE the Sinhala identity did not cover the whole people of SL but only a small ruling class. Gunawardene's theory has been controverted by K.N.O.Dharmadasa.

Prof Parnavitana has already explained that if the Sinhalas were the dominant group it was not necessary to mention this fact, and only "outgroups" like Kaboja, Milaka and Demeda are mentioned, and that too in less than a dozen instances out of the over 1200 inscriptions available for this period.

Of course the Sanskrit literature of India always refers to Sri Lanka as the land or island of the Sinhala. The mention of the term in the Sinhala literature of Sri Lanka also occurs around this time. K.N.O. Dhamadasa cites a passage from the Dhampiya Atuv G„apadaya, written by King Kassapa V (914-923) which provides "unmistakable testimony to the fact that, by the time of its compilation, the Sinhala identity in its widest implications was an accepted fact". Kassapa paraphrases the Pali word dpabhsya, meaning "in the language of the island", as heu basin, which means "in the helu (Sinhala) language".

Ancient Sinhala Verses and Graffiti About Sigiriya Maidens

According to Prof. Sen-arat Paranavithana (Brahmi inscriptions in Sinhalese verse Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Ceylon. 1945), the earliest extant specimens of Sinhalese metrical compositions may be dated to the first century B.C. At least four of the early Brahmi inscriptions of Sri Lanka have been identified as poetical compositions. [Source: Asiff Hussein, Explore Sri Lanka]

An unusual form of literature stemming from the Anuradhapura period is the graffiti scrawled on the wall in the gallery leading to the top of the Sigiriya fortress. This literature consists of verses scribbled by visitors who admired the paintings which adorned the side of the Sigiriya fortress — the most famous of which are of beautiful topless women called the Sgiriya Maidens. These paintings stirred romantic thoughts amongst some of the visitors.

Asiff Hussein wrote: The Sigiri graffiti scribbled on the mirror wall (Kedapath pavura) of the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya built by King Kassapa I (477-485 ), may be dated to the 7th — 8th centuries. These verses which are predominantly on secular themes are largely addressed to the Sigiri frescoes, paintings of beautiful bejewelled, bare-breasted female figures on the western face of the rock. A good many of the verses are therefore of an amorous or romantic nature. Two specimens of the graffiti are given below (trans. by S. Paranavithana and W. G. Archer).
We spoke but they did not answer
Those ladies of the mountain
They did not give us
The twitch of an eyelid
The girl with the golden skin
Enticed the mind and eyes.
Her lovely breasts caused me to recall
Swans drunk with nectar.

as mî dun hasun
hasun seyin vil duta
mulâlama sänahî
pul puyuman seyi bamara duta [Like swans who have seen a lake, I listened to the message given (by her) like a bee who has seen full-blown lotuses, the bewildered heart of mine was consoled].

Poetry in Medieval Sri Lanka

Asiff Hussein wrote: One of the greatest literary monuments of the medieval period is the "Kavsilumina" (The crest gem of poetry), a 13th century "maha-kavya" (lengthy, ornate poem taking after the Sanskrit model) composed by King Parakrama Bahu II (1234 " 1269). [Source: Asiff Hussein, Explore Sri Lanka]

This masterpiece which contains 770 verses divided into 15 cantos is a versified form of the "Kusa Jataka" which related the story of the Bodhisattva (as the Buddha is known in his supposed previous births) born as the ugly Prince Kusa and his romance with the lovely Princess Pabhavati.

Given below is a selection from the Kavsilumina (trans. Harold Peiris and L.C. Van Geyzel):
This swan-king snared by the honey of drink
Played in that lake, his festal hall, where the night lilies
Were fair women, the stalks their strings of pearl,
Their eyes the darting fish, the lotuses their bowls of wine.
The face plainly seen in the bowl of wine
Given to him by a love-maddened girl, in which lay
Reflected the lily-blossoms of her eyes.
Made the king lose his reason straight.

Very often, the language of the Kavsilumina is replete with metaphors which contribute to its lucid style. This is all the more enhanced by the fact that the work is composed in poetic Sinhala which lends itself easily to metaphorical expression. Compare for example, the following verses which occur in the work.
Duru kele aluyam, bera me gos piya thaman
Uravil legum gos gath, abisaruvan thana hasun;
[The thunder-like beating of drums at dawn caused the swans, namely the breasts, of the courtesans, to leave the ponds, the chests, of the lovers, where they had rested during the night]

Much of the medieval Sinhalese poetry has been based on the Jataka tales. Such are the "Kavya-Sekharaya" (Diadem of poetry) written in 1450 by Sri Rahula which is based on the "Sattubhasta Jataka" and the Guttilaya of Vetteve thera (15th century) based on the "Guttila Jataka".

The Kotte period (15th " 16th centuries) marks the efflorescence of Sinhalese poetry. The largely secular "Sandesha" (message) poems gained immense popularity during this period. The Sandesha poems are based on Kalidasa"s Meghaduta (cloud messenger). The essence of the Sandesha poem is the despatch of a message through the agency of a living being, very often a bird.

The oldest Sandesha poem of which we have any evidence is the "Mayura Sandeshaya" (Peacock"s message) dating back to the 13th century, if not earlier. The work no longer exists, though examples from it are cited in the classical Sinhala grammar "Sidath-sangara" (13th century). The "Thisara Sandeshaya" (Swan"s message) is dated to the 14th century, while the "Gira Sandeshaya" (Parrot"s message), "Hansa Sandeshaya" (Goose"s message), "Parevi Sandeshaya" (Dove"s message), "Kokila Sandeshaya" (Cuckoo"s message) and "Selalihini Sandeshaya" (Starling"s message) belong to the 15th century. Other Sandesha poems include the "Sevul Sandeshaya" (Cock"s message), "Hema Kurulu Sandeshaya" (Oriole"s message) "Ketakirili Sandeshaya" (Hornbill"s message), "Nilakobo Sandeshaya" (Blue dove"s message) and "Diyasevul Sandeshaya" (Black swan"s message).

Poetry in Sri Lanka from the Colonial Era

Asiff Hussein wrote: An unusual Sandesha poem is the "Nari-Sath-Sandeshaya" of "Shiladipati" composed in 1833, describing the pilgrimage of seven women from the village of Nathagane to Dambulla. What enamours one most to the Sandesha poems are its rhyme and detailed description of the people and places to be seen in the course of our feathered friend"s journey. One of the most descriptive Sandesha poems is the "Hansa Sandeshaya", which purports to be despatched from Kotte to the Sangha-raja Vanaratana at Keragala (a distance of roughly 48 kilometers) beseeching him to invoke the gods and bid them protect the king. [Source: Asiff Hussein, Explore Sri Lanka]

Given below are two quatrains of the poem pertaining to water sports in the Kelani river (trans. H. Peiris and L.C. Van Geyzel):
When, turning on their backs, the women float in the river
It gains the charm of a long garden-pool with their faces
Like lotus, dark lily-eyes, swan bosoms, brows and eyelashes
Like the bees" glistening swarms, gambolling to their hearts con-tent
Waves stole the saffron and scented paste from women"s bodies
Of red salve no trace remained on their lips when water shot upon them, their eyes closed in fear, had the charm
Of blue lilies awaiting the beams of the full moon.

Another class of Sinhala poetry is the war poems (hatan kavi). These are more or less panegyrics in praise of some king or general. One of the earliest known hatan kavi is the "Kustantinu hatana" (the war of Constantine) describing the war the Portuguese Captain General Constantine de Sa (17th century) waged, and won, against a Sinhalese rebel named Antonio. The "Maha hatana" (Great War) tells of the defeat of Constantine de Sa and his successors at the hands of the Kandyan King Rajasinghe II (17th century). Other notable war poems include the "Parangi hatana" (War with the Portuguese) describing the famous battle of Gannoruwa (1638) in which the Sinhalese forces routed the Portuguese army and the "Ingrisi hatana" (war with the English) describing the Kandyan King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe"s victory over the British army in 1803.

Sinhala Love Poetry and the Affair Between Gascon Adigar and the Queen-Consort

Asiff Hussein wrote: Sinhala love poetry also makes delightful reading. Some of the most popular verses are ascribed to Gascon Adigar and the Queen-consort of the Kandyan King Rajasinghe. Gascon who was of Portuguese or French descent had been brought up as a Kandyan from infancy, and being a man of martial prowess, became a favourite of the king.He was well versed in Sinhala poetry, but was unfortunate enough to fall in love with the queen. The king who suspected Gascon of carrying on an affair with his queen lost no time in condemning him to death. While awaiting execution in prison, a correspondence in verse between Gascon and the queen is said to have taken place in secret. [Source: Asiff Hussein, Explore Sri Lanka]

The queen wrote to Gascon thus:
Thun kala thumula vanaye malrasa novinda
Kanthala gajan kopulata bingu ronata veda
Kanthala pahara veni nirinduta asuva inda
Pin kala hithanuvani den thevenu kumatada;
[As the honey-loving bee heedless thro" the forest flies Where the many colored flowers tempt him with their rich supplies, And by fragrance strange allured on the tusked head alights, Victim of the flapping ears all amid the stol"n delights, Thus adored love art thou captive of thy king and lord, Yet, dash sorrow from thy brow, cease to mourn, my dear, adored).]

Gascon replied.
Vises Kamalava rasa pahasa novinda ma
Dasis duni porana esa dutu pamanata ma
Veses numbe amayuru pahasa lath pema
Masis ekak giya nam numbe namata kima
[Lanka"s giant king, enthralled only by beauty"s sight,
Laid down his twice five heads uncropped the flower of love"s delight,
Then why should I, a happier swain, who with the gods above
Have revelled at the banquet rare of thy ambrosial love,
Repine with my one head to atone for my bold adventure,
To gain what sweetens human lives as long as they endure]

Gajaman Nona : The Legendary Poetess

Gajaman Nona is regarded as Sri Lanka’s greatest a poetess. She is said to have been a ravishing beauty, with grace. Her love for poetry was immensely great, To learn under a monk, she posed as a male. At that time monks were forbidden from associating with females. She married a chieftain named Gardiarachchi when she was 21. He died a few years later, leaving here and here children impoverished.

Walter Wijenayaka wrote: Gajaman Nona, a legendary figure having the ability in writing and reciting impromptu vibrant Sinhala poetry was born in 1758 and was baptised Dona Isabella Koraneliya Perumal according to historians. Don Francisco Senaratne Kumara Perumal, who became the Gajaman Arachchi of Matara District and who had much to do with the capture and taming of elephants, was her father. He lived somewhere in Hakmana. [Source: Walter Wijenayaka

As it had been laid down by some historians Gajaman Nona had been married to 'Thalpe Merenchegei Garadiya Arachchi'. After his death she had been married to Mudliyar 'Hendrick Siriwardena Vijayawimalasekera'. He also died unexpectedly. Since these sorrowful occurrences, she and her children were looked after by her father. After some time he was killed by an elephant at Kahagala/Kasagala village, a few miles away from Hungama while on duty. This woman with a fair complexion is a great person worthy of commemoration each year today (December 15) as a poetess who has left a permanent mark for her endeavour to spend a decent life amids the male dominant walks of life, inclusive of high dignitaries who pushed her from pillar to post. She died on 15 December 1814 at the age of 56.

Pandit Koratota 'hamuduruwo' was her teacher in Sinhala language, Elapatha Mudaliyar of Ratnapura District who had been earlier a Buddhist monk in the name Elapatha Dhammaratne Thera too was a pupil of the same Koratota 'Hamuduruwo'. This Mudaliyar was very efficient in poetry. History records that Gajaman Nona (after her husband's demise) and Mudaliyar Elapatha wrote to each other in lovely verse using warm language.

Once Mudaliyar Elapatha wrote to her the following verse to attract her.
Chanda sooriya meni elandage uvana
Inda neela deka meni lamada ena thana
Andakarayata avulu pana mena
Kinda thani yahane nidiyanne nona

In response to this verse, Gajaman Nona wrote the following verse in an angry mood.
Banda mage himi paralowa giya bavina
Ninda apata puruduya thaniyama yahana
Vinda rathi sapatha mathaka nathi vina
Kinda thamuseta vimasanna karana

When Sir John D'Oyley was serving as the Government Agent and Fiscal Collector in the Matara and Hambantota Districts between 1802 and 1806, Gajaman Nona had been much impoverished and she with her children had no proper way of earning her living, wrote to the former in verse seeking an audience and relief to end her poverty and spend a normal life.

Kind-hearted D'Oyley considering her poverty and her literary ability and having much sympathy, granted her a Nindagama, a strectch of land to her to earn a living. It is this particular land in which her statue stands at Nonagama Junction on the main road between Hambantota and Tangalle. However, some historians have stated that D'Oyley had not been authorised to grant lands to natives.

Poetry Events and the Popularity of Poetry in in Sri Lanka in the 1940s and 50s

Poetry events called Kavi maduwas were held occasionally in the towns and sometimes lasted a whole day. Poetry collections of well-known authors sold in large numbers. Kavi kolayas, which carried important or sensational incidents narrated in verse form, were sold at bus stands, Sunday fairs and so on by men who recited them aloud to attract customers. [Source: D.S.S.Mayadunne, Frontline]

The kavi maduwa were born in the early 1950s after a lecture by P.B. Alwis Perera, a well-known poet. D.S.S.Mayadunne wrote: After his speech someone from the audience asked him to recite a poem. Alwis Perera said that he would do so if any one in the audience inspired him with an original poem. A young man, who was the editor of a local poetry journal, stood up and recited a verse. Alwis Perera replied immediately with one of his own. This led to a kavi maduwa (an interactive poetry session where people who are present are free to recite their poems or debate with each other in verse) which lasted for about 45 minutes and in which a number of persons participated.

This happened in a town about 40 kilometers from Colombo. Such events were common in the 1940s too. By 1950 there were a number of monthly poetry magazines being published in the country. Four of them, published from Colombo, were read nationwide. They were Dedunne (Rainbow), edited by P.B. Alwis Perera; Suwanda (Fragrance), edited by Kapila E. Seneviratne; Meewadaya (Honeycomb), edited by John Rajadasa; and Amba Vanaya (Mangrove) edited by Sirisena Maitipe. P.B. Alwis Perera edited the largest-selling poetry magazine and was also the most formidable figure at kavi maduwas. Poetry magazines were also published from provincial towns. Kavi maduwas were held occasionally in the towns and sometimes lasted a whole day. Poetry collections of well-known authors sold in large numbers. Kavi kolayas, which carried important or sensational incidents narrated in verse form, were sold at bus stands, Sunday fairs and so on by men who recited them aloud to attract customers.

The poetry practised was metrical and the most popular meter was samudraghosha (every line has about 17 time units and ends with the same syllable and every stanza has four lines). Samudraghosha has been popular for at least 700 years. It was used in sandesa poems (the earliest model of which was Kalidasa's Meghadootam) which are supposed to have been inspired by the more recent Tamil Thudhu poems, in the Kotte period and before. (The Kotte period was the last period of Sri Lankan glory before the European invasions). The samudraghosha meter was used in most forms of popular poetry, such as pel kavi (poems sung at night while guarding fields), paru kavi (those sung while paddling boats) and goyam kavi (those sung while reaping paddy).

Another significant development in Sinhala poetry was the introduction of free verse. The most enthusiastic proponent of free verse in Sinhala was Siri Gunasinghe, a university don. Free verse was first introduced in Sinhala poetry by G.B. Senanayake in 1948. He inserted free verse between short stories in one of his collections. He did not call it poetry. He called it an intermediate composition between prose and poetry. However, Siri Gunasinghe introduced it with a vengeance in the mid-1950s. He considered metrical verse as worthless. He published two collections of verse called Mas le neti eta (Bones Without Flesh or Blood) and Abinikmana (Departure). Coming from a university academic, this criticism had a devastating effect on popular poetry. None of the earlier poets, including the erudite Munidasa Cumaratunga, had a university degree. Popular poets such as P.B. Alwis Perera tried to fight back but were unsuccessful.

Popular Poets in the 1940s and 50s

D.S.S.Mayadunne wrote: The important poets of the 1940s were Ananda Rajakaruna, S. Mahinda Thera and G.H. Perera. Ananda Rajakaruna was the seniormost of them. S. Mahinda Thera was a Buddhist monk, who wrote his name as 'Tibet Jathika S. Mahinda', which meant S. Mahinda of Tibetan nationality. 'S' stood for Sikkim. Apparently he called himself a Tibetan national rather than a Sikkimese national because Tibet was better known in Sri Lanka. He was ordained a monk after his arrival in Sri Lanka. A remarkable aspect of his career as a Sinhala poet was that he became an ardent nationalist. He was also a sympathiser of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), which was founded in 1935 and which brought together the forward-looking and anti-imperialist sections of Sri Lankan society. G.H. Perera, a school teacher, was also a member of the LSSP, a nationalist and a social critic. [Source: D.S.S.Mayadunne, Frontline]

Among the younger poets of the late 1940s and early 1950s were P.B. Alwis Perera, Sagara Palansuriya, Wimalaratne Kumaragama and a host of others. The most sensitive poet was perhaps Wimalaratne Kumaragama. Most of the poets were left-leaning. When the right-wing United National Party Government held a poetry competition to celebrate Sri Lanka's Independence in 1948, none of the popular poets responded, saying that it was a fake Independence.

While poetry magazines and newspapers catered to popular poetry, another poetic tradition was kept alive through its main proponent, Munidasa Cumaratunga, who died in 1944 but whose fame remains to this day. This was a more learned stream of poetry. Munidasa Cumaratunga is the foremost Sinhala grammarian of modern times. He was a teacher and later the principal of a teachers' training college. A question by one of his pupils, which Cumaratunga could not answer, set him on a voyage of study which enabled him to develop concepts of Sinhala grammar in a scientific manner. He also learnt Sanskrit on his own and gained a thorough knowledge of it. He started a magazine by the name of Subasa to promote the correct use of Sinhala.

Cumaratunga was a versatile poet. He also edited and published several ancient Sinhala classics. He was a nationalist of a different order. He considered all Sri Lankans to be Helas, a term that could include all ethnic communities in the country. He and his associates founded an organisation called Hela Havula in order to promote their ideas. One of Cumaratunga's poems, "Piyasamara", written about his dead father, was considered by a distinguished contemporary, Martin Wickramasinghe, as a work fit for expansion into a mahakavya (epic).

In a reinterpretation of Sri Lankan history by the Hela school, Vijaya, who is traditionally considered to be the founder of the Sri Lankan state, was no hero; he was only a usurper who temporarily seized a kingdom established long ago, one of the illustrious rulers of which was Ravana. It is interesting that Ravana is a hero of the Hela school in Sri Lanka as well as among Dravidian nationalists in India.

Another distinguished poet of the Hela school was Reipiyel Tennekoon, who in addition to his other voluminous works wrote a history of Sri Lanka in metrical verse. However, he preferred the traditional version of Sri Lankan history rather than the Hela version. Sunil Santha, a popular and talented singer of yesteryear, was a member of the Hela Havula; he sang a number of songs composed by the members of the organisation. [Source: D.S.S.Mayadunne, Frontline]

Decline of Sinhala Poetry

D.S.S.Mayadunne wrote: The decline of Sinhala poetry perhaps began with the publication of Mas le neti eta in 1956. However, this also brought in a culture of fine introspective poetry. One of the dominant poets of this tradition was Mahagama Sekara. He was also a song writer. Some of his songs enjoyed mass appeal when they were sung by the noted singer Pandit Amaradeva. Other important poets who came later were Ratnasri Wijesinghe and Gunadasa Amarasekera. Ratnasri Wijesinghe is also a song writer and some of his songs have been popularised by Amaradeva. Gunadasa Amarasekera, a dental surgeon, won literary laurels early in life. When he was 20 years old, his story was among two Sri Lankan entries selected for an international short story competition conducted by the New York Herald Tribune. Other poets who deserve special mention are Sunil Ariyaratne, Parakrama Kodituwakku, Monika Ruwanpathirana and Eric Ilayapparachchi.

Even Martin Wickramasinghe, the doyen of Sinhala writers of this period, joined the chorus in condemning metrical poetry, poetry in samudraghosha meter in particular. His book of poetry, Theri Gee, is a Sinhala translation of some Theri Gatha (Psalms of the Sisters) ascribed to Buddhist nuns who were contemporaries of the Buddha. The originals were in Pali, in mellifluous metrical verse, but the Sinhala translations are in free verse. However, Wickramasinghe later said that he did not like the free verse form. The new poets occasionally write metrical verse in addition to free verse, but they generally avoid the samudraghosha meter. Sirilal Kodikara is a poet of the early 1950s but whose form of poetry is akin to that of the new poets. In his early poems he adopted the samudraghosha meter, but when the trend went against the samudraghosha meter he adopted other meters. [Source: D.S.S.Mayadunne, Frontline]

Several Sinhala poets today seem unconcerned whether their poetry is actually "performed", but the effect is lost when poetry is not recited or acted out. Modern poetry is meant more to be read than recited. All these poets are talented, but they face a serious problem; Sinhala poetry has lost its mass appeal and the sales of books of poetry have dropped. A book of poetry today sells about 500 copies on an average. This is a sad situation in a country where such books sold thousands of copies a few decades ago. Perhaps Sinhala poetry needs to return to the metrical form, especially the samudraghosha meter, which today's poets appear to despise. After all, a sensitive and perceptive poet such as Wimalaratne Kumaragama wrote in the samudraghosha meter and he is a worthy model to emulate. Or is it too late in the day to save Sinhala poetry as a popular literary form?

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Sri Lanka Tourism (srilanka.travel), Government of Sri Lanka (www.gov.lk), The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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