Biography of Ramakanta Rath
Ramakanta Rath (Oriya: ରମାକାନ୍ତ ରଥ) is one of the most renowned modernist poets in the Oriya literature. Heavily influenced by the poets such as T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, Rath experimented greatly with form and style.
The quest for the mystical, the riddles of life and death, the inner solitude of individual selves, and subservience to material needs and carnal desires are among this philosopher-poet's favorite themes. His poetry betrays a sense of pessimism along with counter-aesthetics, and he steadfastly refuses to put on the garb of a preacher of goodness and absolute beauty. His poetry is full of melancholy and laments the inevitability of death and the resultant feeling of futility. The poetic expressions found in his creations carry a distinct sign of symbolic annotations to spiritual and metaphysical contents of life. Often transcending beyond ordinary human capabilities, the poet reaches the higher territories of sharp intellectualism. The contents have varied from a modernist interpretation of ancient Sanskrit literature protagonist Radha in the poem "Sri Radha" to the ever-present and enthralling death-consciousness espoused in "Saptama Ritu" (The Seventh Season).
Rath was born in Cuttack, Orissa (India). He obtained his MA in English Literature from Ravenshaw College Orissa He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1957, but continued his writing career. He retired as Chief Secretary Orissa after holding several important posts in the Central Government such as Secretary to the Government of India. He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1977, Saraswathi Samman in 1992, Bishuva Samman in 1990 and India's 3rd highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan in 2006. He was the Vice President of the Sahitya Academy of India from 1993 to 1998 and the President of the Sahitya Akademi of India from 1998 to 2003, New Delhi.
In February 2009 he was awarded a fellowship by the Central Sahitya Akademi, the fifth Oriya writer to be so honoured.
A number of his poems have been translated into English and other Indian languages.
Ramakanta Rath's Works:
"Kete Dinara" (Of a Long Long Time), 1962
"Aneka Kothari" (Many Rooms), 1967
"Sandigdha Mrigaya" (Suspicious Hunting), 1971
"Saptama Ritu" (The Seventh Season), 1977
"Sachitra Andhara" (Picturesque Darkness), 1982
Sri Radha (Sri Radha), 1984
Sri Palataka (Mr. Escapist), 1997
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Ramakanta Rath Poems
Sriradha: Part - 58
You are the fragrance of rocks, the lamentation of each flower, the unbearable heat of the moon, the icy coolness of the blazing sun,
Sriradha: Part - 19
Come, take half of the remainder of my life, but fill every moment of the half that is mine
A Request To The Dead
I offer this water to you, my father, grandfather and great grandfather, and to you, soldiers and generals who fought for us and who fought against us
Lines Addressed To Her Non-Resident Pres...
I had thought I had forgotten you entirely.
The Soldier In Exile
Sometimes I wish I should return, throw this body to the ground before the judges installed in all the marketplaces of my country, and tell them, come, hang it
Murder On The Agenda
I know there is blood on my hands. I further know my hands will be stained with much further blood.
A Request To The Dead
I offer this water to you,
my father, grandfather and great grandfather,
and to you, soldiers and generals
who fought for us and who fought against us
and who were killed by this war.
I stand here, on this battlefield,
and give this water and this rice to you—
you must be hungry and thirsty.