A Collection of Poems
LAUNCH RIDE ON THE SENANAYAKE SAMUDRA
Success upon a trip like this you’d judge
By wealth of knowledge, no mirage,
Gained of bird and wild life, nature and creation,
That dwell unfetterd by our civilisation.
The Samudra’s water ripples gently, slowly,
Save where our launch is ploughing it boldly,
Around each stump, bleached, blackened, hoary,
Deteriorating and divest of virgin glory
They menace now unwary boating strangers,
Their falling, floating members, latent dangers.
Once, suffused with flora and foliage bright
There were warehouse and haven, wild life’s delight
Still cormorant and egret, and waterfowl remain
To nest, take wing, circle and perch again.
Deceptively below, ‘mid bobbing logs appear
Part tail, backbone or snout of crocs who peer,
And wait for falling eggs and faltering young
Who in flying fail and fall in jaws wide flung
Which snap, shattering the all-rhythmic strain
Of ripples, that rave and then grow calm again.
Afore, the jungle enveloping her charms
Stretches the green gloved open palms
Of the water’s frontiers, whereon is seen
Deer, red brown against the verdant green;
Some feed heads down, while other on the brink
Of the cool waters, take refreshing drink;
A few, alert, vigilant to impending harm,
Sentinels they, who give the signal of alarm,
When like a puff of wind, a dull red flash
They disappear into the tangled underbrush.
Then, on a promontory we draw near
To the citrus orchards of Baduluwela
That village old, a part of which it shed
To give the Samudra a wider bed,
Attention centres on a hazy, bulky form
And what did seem a rock was but a pachyderm
With ears, and tail and trunk that swing unheeding
In constant cycle, uprooting, dusting, feeding
(In preference to all those jungle boughs)
The luscious grass into his massive jaws.
A setting sun illuminates the bold scene
Against a background of deepest bottle green
A sky emblazoned by that fiery globe
Is mirrored in the shimmering azure robe
Of placed water, on which lengthy shadows fall
As we step off and stand to survey all
Expectant, silent, straining ears and eyes
And face each other with a wild surmise,
Our hopes fulfilled, we now return at dusk
With memories of scenes so picturesque
DAILY MIRROR WEDNESDAY MARCH 30TH 1966
Enveloped in a busy, struggling world
She lives, but few have ever of her heard
Except perhaps in tones of sympathy
Of which she needs but least, her apathy
For worldly comfort, luxuries is strange
Humble and content, determined to estrange
Herself from worldliness, she seeks to gain
Heaven, instead of things mundane.
Her simple fancies, the little within her reach,
Dancing, music, films, just so much of each
Her solace are, when she is far removed
From members of her loving loyal brood,
Who come and go at varying intervals
Flooding with joy in those short spells
Her quiet, sober life, her failing health
To sustain which is greater than all wealth.
The way she lives, it surely is a grief,
That she will not accept what small relief
Is offered her in many varied forms
But to a pattern pleasing her conforms,
In sweet content, she ceases not to toil
And with patience, resignation, burns the oil
That still within her ‘Lamp of Life’ remains,
Till the flame dies – and she her reward gains.
They lap and they wash, those waves, swish, swash,
Not a roar or frightening splash,
So shallow and calm, you can come to no harm,
E’en the toddler enrapt in its charm.
Great Ocean renowned! This frontier you’ve crowned,
With allurements nowhere else found,
That they come from afar, and where ever they are,
Are they led by some strange guiding star?
Its simple and sound, the word gets around,
On a beach such as this you are bound,
To find sweet relaxation, free from vexation,
Peace, solace and sweet consolation.
There’s giggling and laughter, as they bob in the water,
On the shore, contentment and chatter,
Which all goes to show, there’s sure something more,
On this enchanted and sunkissed shore.
What e’er be the light, both day and night,
You’re a feast of pure delight,
In your gorgeous arrays, changed in so many ways,
By the whims of each passing phase.
Swathed in moonlight you’re show, like some rare precious stone,
Set in velvet of rich dark tone
Of the silhouette of palms, in whose encircling arms,
Is cradled your expanse of charms.
Then your beauty unshorn, with the coming morn,
Iridescent with bright hues of dawn
So placid and cool, rippling like a small pool,
Will capture e-en the heart of a fool.
O! such grandeur sublime, when Phoebus sanguine,
From his domain, celestial divine
Sets the waves all ablaze, and they dance in a craze,
And you’re one burnished shimmering haze.
Just one taste of this, like some enchantress’ kiss,
And you’ll crave all the while for this bliss,
So wherever you are, be it ever so far,
You’ll return to this Passekudah.
GAL OYA LAXAPANA POWER LINK
From the new town of Inginiyagala,
The offspring of Senanayake Samudra,
That surge of water harnessed so,
To provide water for the fields below
And Francis wheels that generate the power
In the Power House at Inginiyagala.
Here starts the line on its journey far
To the substation coming up at Badulla.
Two hundred and seventeen towers stand
Through foreign aid, Canada’s helping hand
Installed them, towers A,B,D and E,
Those stately structures plain for all to see,
Colossal they, and draped in misty fall
Or sun kissed, sixty nine feet tall;
Standing in close proximity, they define
The continuous span of the transmission line.
These giant skeletons towering to great height
Their flesh long decomposed, their bones bleached white,
Silver and gleaming, they now stand askance
And with their lofty heads around them glance
At all the obstacles they’ve hurdled o’er
With ‘seven leagued boots’, quite sixty feet or more
Of ‘right of way’ they’ve cleared, a wide passage, Off danger trees, and under brush and foliage.
O’er valleys ravines, hills and mountains they’ve walked
To take position – they can ne’er be baulked-
And there, legs firmly planted in the ground
They’re there to stay and never move around;
With no discrimination, without thought for rest,
To very corner, north, south, east and west,
On outstretched arms they reverently bear,
That precious gift to man ‘Electric Power’.
There is no doubting its efficiency,
The potential force behind all industry,
Setting the cogs of life’s machinery in motion
Its versatility rejuvenates the nation;
In humble home or office, mill and factory
From every daily task is removed drudgery
When ’Power’ is summoned, with never a hitch
By pressing a button or flicking on a switch.
GALO OYA NEWS 1962
A MOTHER’S SUPPLICATION
A mother prayed one August morn,
On a tenth I think it was,
For a daughter dear, her second born,
Who on her distant way then was,
To her music examination.
Heavenly Mother, ‘tis this I ask,
Give now to her Thy succour,
To one who well does every task,
Light and calm and vision clear,
And keen concentration.
Within her dwell, O! Mother dear,
That Thee, not will she stand
Before him, and play sweet and clear
With fingers guided by Thy Hand,
An excellent rendition.
Considering it was just grade three,
And a simple little theme,
Thought he, a cherub this must be,
The strains do sound so heavenly,
With supernal perfection.
But little did he ever dare,
That a Lady, Divine, Regal, Fair,
Had dwelt with the maiden there,
In answer to a humble prayer,
“ A Mother’s Supplication”
O! how I love the tiny bees,
Busily buzzing among the trees,
Flitting to fill, from flower and floret,
Each honey crop and pollen basket
And all the while on whirring wings
Winding their way to my heart strings.
One day a little hive I traced
And had it in a bee box placed
But when they flew to their old home
Leaving but few to guard the comb
The lid removed, they came and went
Industrious, on the errands bent.
In numbers they did swell and grow
The hive was now a pride to show
Spellbound and eager I beheld
The ceremonies that they held
Reconnaissance flights made by the queen,
Before her nuptial flight, I ween.
One bright day they swarmed and then,
I watched with tense trepidation
Lest they should settle out of reach
And cause between us a wide breach,
When lo! Upon a real low leaf,
The chose to rest to my relief.
Silently, stealthily, with great care,
I scooped them and did proudly bear
In open hands this precious swarm
The queen held gently in one palm,
That thought, that feel, of feet so light,
Is pleasure recurrent, pure delight.
The older children whisper, there’s magic in the air,
We’re going to have a baby, we’re thrilled we must declare,
And brother who’s been baby, for well night twelve long years,
Will gladly relinquish his right for now it will be hers.
Preparations grow from strength to strength, there’s so much to be done,
And planned with careful forethought, of draughts and light and sun:
A certain room is soon transformed, with walls of pastel hue
And frothy drapings flecked with bows, in pink and white and blue;
Bunnies and dogs, cats and pigs, in friezes skip and run
Round basinet and cot and pram, and bath and flip-top can.
Momentum gathers – all is tense- at last she does arrive,
She does not breathe, her lips are sealed, Ah! She is not alive;
A cherub smile, blue starry eyes, are all shut out for us
Our cherished hopes so sadly crushed, we bear without a fuss.
“Crystal”, that should have been her name,
To a lonely grave is borne,
To the crest of a hill, forever still,
Unnamed, unchristened, unknown
Her thin hands cupped a courageous chin,
Dejected, she sat by the wayside,
Clear pools for eyes, that could not hide,
Character, that spake from within;
Beragged and weary, and worn and thin,
Determined, still to deride,
The crosses, the cares, the joys denied,
Perhaps as penalty for sin.
Skywards she gazed, a prayer took wing,
Confident, in Christ so just,
Consoled, inflamed, suffused she shone, She rose, and with purposeful swing,
To face the future, bravely I trust,
Despondence she shed, and was gone.
As months go by and life grows dull,
And wearily drags the waiting lull,
T’wixt long school term and holidays,
We then with joy recall the days.
If he was here or somewhere near
Like this and that he’d be
Each meal and skirmish, mem’ries clear
Make us long for one so dear.
In just a week, well he’ll be here
Our little son and heir,
Each one has something grand to say,
Of him, our topic of each day.
We wonder if he has grown tall
Or fat and still as small
But now we’ll know in a day or so
Of what’s for us in store.
Things laid aside, and out of view
Are polished to look new,
Cycles and guns and toys and books
Are given bright new looks.
The day has come let’s dance and shout
The treats he likes spread out,
The cakes baked by his sisters dear
Cornflakes and golden syrup clear.
A car stops by the garden gate
O! he can hardly wait,
He rushes now to those he’s missed
To be greeted, hugged and kissed.
Hither and tither the dogs do run,
To welcome him they think is fun,
They jump him down to kiss his face
With rather uncaninely grace.
The house no more is prim and neat,
There’s a toy or book on every seat,
And noise from mechanical cars and trains,
And dinky toys and aeroplanes.
The radio now is tuned to cricket,
At a catch or slip or fall of wicket
Cheers and shouts ring through the house
And no one here has any grouse.
The vacation short soon comes to an end
In Almighty’s care our darling we send
To books and lessons and school all alone,
Leaving us sad and brooding at home.
God bless and keep him our precious boy
His companion be in sorrow and joy,
Guard and guide him help and bless
And strew his path with happiness.
We call you ‘Flame of the Forest’,
Cause your flowers are so vividly bright,
And our lordly jungles are double blest,
When adorned with your flaming light.
From hilltops I see you resplendent,
Against backgrounds of deep leafy green,
That clothe the landscape permanent,
Your conspicuous crest is seen.
We raided the forest to steal thee,
To enrich our home gardens fair,
We craved for your exquisite beauty,
So that’s why you are where you are.
The lawn you enhance quite undefied,
Is transformed to a florid shawl,
Dotted with flowers that float and ride
Capricious breezes, then fall.
Neath your chequered shade, the garden seat,
Seats old and young lovers,
Whose whispered tales you never repeat,
But weave in your glorious flowers.
As your blossoms gently drift from above,
I wonder what secrets they hold,
What fanciful dreams, what words of love,
Are revealed in their colours bold.
I loved you so, dear Lanka fair,
That even though I travelled far,
I still to you returned, but then,
This truly was a fair Eden:
But now that wily snake has grown,
Which by dastardly acts are shown,
Lurks here, corruption to high degree,
It isn’t what it used to be.
For those who to the helm have come,
Victims to ‘Power Lust’ soon succumb,
And on the altars of sacrifice,
Our freedom slashed – at any price.
So from this country I must go,
Migrating to a foreign shore,
Leaving with anguish those I love,
My dear relations, truly I vow.
O! dearest country, land of my birth,
I fed on the fruits of your kind earth,
Bathed in your sparkling water falls,
Cascading down yon craggy walls;
Roamed forests watching wildlife bold,
Your towns and villages – so very old,
Romped in your fields and meadows green,
Loved and appreciated all I’d seen.
Flesh of my flesh, my dear loved ones,
As in my veins your own blood runs,
Bear not against me any grudge,
As warily to an unknown I trudge:
Seeking true freedom, not just for me,
But for my growing children three,
My tasks accomplished, my labours done,
But it’s for them, life’s just begun.
Now as I bid you a sad farewell,
Pray my endeavours will turn out well,
That bleak winds, snow and falling flakes,
Will thrill me as did sunny lakes:
That lands when dressed in twilight cloak,
Will transport me home, to you dear folk,
I’ll close my eyes and whisper a prayer –
And in your midst – I’ll surely be there.
Sent: Friday, 19 May 2006 11:24 AM
Subject: Poems on Sri Lanka by Ziska Lawless
The attached word document carries various poems written by my Aunt Ziska Lawless who lives in England. These poems were written
when the family lived in Ampara in the 1950's to early 60's. Her husband, and my Uncle, Oscar Lawless was stationed in Ampara working for the
GODB. (Gal Oya Development Board.)
The family (daughters Norma, Fleur and son Ralston) bid farewell to the shores of Sri Lanka in 1963 for a new life in the UK and sailed on the ship
"Orion". They had another son "Kevin" who was born in England.
Please see her note below and enjoy the attached poems, some of which were published in SL newspapers in 1962 & 1966.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 10:07 AM
Subject: Dear Jerry
The Gal Oya Scheme was the brainchild of D.S.Senanayake.
In 1948 the Gal Oya which is fed by many streams and tributaries was dammed thereby flooding villages like Wadinagala, Baduluwela and other surrounding areas to form the Senanayake Samudra, a lake whose entire extent is about 29,900 hectares. It also provided access to the new town of Inginiyagala. The waters so harnessed were utilized to generate hydroelectric power.
The inhabitants of these submerged villages and the surrounding areas lived very primitive and arduous lives. Their only mode of transport was carts and they were served by one apothecary and headman whose knowledge and advice was considered infallible . They were compensated with financial assistance, some land, a small dwelling (colonists hut), some agricultural tools, kitchen utensils, etc. Their lives changed for the better, socially and economically. The opening of roads, telecommunication services set up by the Village Expansion Scheme contributed to a more civilized way of life.
The Samudra is dotted with small islands which are covered in greenery. Elephants graze there and probably swim from island to island. When we (I) visited this place large trees were standing in the waters of the lake , but as the roots were so saturated all the leaves and small branches had fallen off. However there was no shortage of many birds of many varieties nesting in them with their eggs and fledglings. (See my poem)
The electricity that was generated had to be carried to the rest of the island on pylons (towers) These towers were constructed in the most inaccessible places…..clearing a “right of way “ through the forests.
We had great times there in Amparai. There were socials and dances, sports and championships , wonderful sandy beaches further further
east. the favourite of which was the one at Passecudah. (see my poem)
My other poems speak for themselves.
A MOTHERS SUPPLICATION ….My prayer for my daughters success
SONNY BOY …The excitement, anticipation and joy felt by all the family when my son came home from boarding school for his holidays
MOTHER … the Angel heaven sent doyen to us.
BEES…I became interested in bees since I went to a Bee Exhibition. I wanted so much to make my family believe that bees do not sting at special times, eg. When they swarm. And I got that opportunity when they set up their hive in my chimney.
FLAMBOYANT… sitting in the park watching these flowers glide down gently on to the green grass inspired
THE SONNET...similarly in the same park I saw a dear old lady sitting by herself deep in thought and that got me thinking.
CRYSTAL...is the baby I lost on 1.03.1961, because of the neglect of a Nursing Home. The anaesthetist was busy in the hospital and by the time he arrived at the nursing home to carry out my operation the baby had died. We should have sued them…instead they sent me the bill which even included the cost of the cotton wool …and We paid it.
Lots of love to one and all