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Have a penchant for writing heartfelt poems?
Send in your heart songs to
soul@nation.lk or snail mail The Nation-Soul,
742, Maradana Road, Colombo 10.
Please write ‘Heart songs’ on the envelope or as the subject line of your email.

 

The story of a tree

Cold drops of water touched the dried, hardened earth
While a tiny seed that was almost in dust
Livened up…
And slowly she prepared for life

A pinch of the soft sunlight,
The touch of the soft summer breeze
Awakened her,
From her deep slumber.

In the care and shelter
She blossomed and grew,
Budding and thriving,
She foretold of a future bright, which was yet untold…

Many were the visitors that stopped by
To enjoy her newly borne fruit and shelter,
Fresh and new, she bore no burden
In the mirth of life, she thought of today, and no tomorrow.

Days flew by and she was young no more,
The delights of life did not seem inviting any more,
The visitors failed to remember her
They did not remember at all…
Until one day she was found
Silent and still, after death had swiftly embraced her.

(Pebbles)

****

In Memory…

When death visited her abode,
When she was still in her young age,
She had to go
Despite her busy schedules
For today, tomorrow and then onwards
When endless yesterdays
Have stacked up into years,
Filled with never ending memories
Of happiness, victory and satisfaction,
Of regret, remorse and fatigue,
Of glory, hope and effort,
The life has come so far,
Struggling at times;
Smoothly at other times…
For now she is gone,
Doors of future are closed for her
Only PAST remains noticeable
Easy to track down, and now
Past is only a memory
Left alone
For someone
Who shed a tear for her
To recall and to reminiscence
Of all her yesterdays…

(Chanakya Liyanage
– University of Colombo)

****

Sharing

One for me and one for you
On top of each other
Upstairs for me
Downstairs for you
And a ladder in the middle
A railing around mine,
To stop me form falling
And none around yours,
For there is nowhere to fall
A ladder for me to climb down
And none for you,
For there is nowhere to climb down
My sister and I,
Have a bunk bed
And every night,
Before I go to sleep
I hope with all my heart
That my sister would never get the idea
Of taking away the ladder
Between the two beds

(Nilasi Liyanage – Musaeus College)

****

   Poet of the week

George Bacovia is the pen name of George Vasiliu, a Romanian symbolist poet and also one of the most important Romanian interwar poets. Bacovia was born on September 17th 1881 (1881– 1957).
Childhood
Bacovia was born George Andone Vasiliu in Bacău. He was the son of a merchant, Dimitrie Vasiliu, and his wife Zoe Vasiliu. He began his study of German at six years of age. Between 1889 and 1890 he started his schooling at an academy in Bacău, before registering in 1891 at the “Domnească” Primary School in the same city. In June 1893, he finished his primary schooling and afterward began studies at the Gimnaziul Ferdinand, also in Bacău.

One autumn night, an oversight by the sexton led to his being locked overnight in the tower of the Precista church, an experience which would later inspire his first major poem, 1899’s Amurg violet (Purple Twilight). He was also a talented artist and was a great violinist and a gymnast. His poem Şi toate - written a year earlier under the name of “V. George” was published in the magazine Literatorul on 30 March, launching his literary career.

Studies

In 1900, Bacovia matriculated at the Military Academy in Iaşi, but dropped out during his second semester unable to bear military discipline. In 1901 he began studies at the Liceul Ferdinand in Bacău, and graduated in 1903. He wrote the poem Liceu (High School) in response to a Ministry of Education questionnaire sent to graduates in the course of Spiru Haret’s educational reforms. He matriculated at the Faculty of Law in Bucharest and soon became a fixture in the city’s literary life. He obtained his law degree in 1911; he qualified for the bar in Bacău, but despite paying dues for ten years, never practiced law. Instead, he spent his time working with Caion working as a copyist at the Prefecture, and helping at the Prefectural accounting office. In 1913-1914, his health deteriorated and he was eventually forced to relinquish his post.

Between the wars

In 1914, Bacovia was interned at the sanitorium of Dr. Mărgăritescu in Bucharest, from where he published poems in the literary supplement of the newspaper Seara and sent Plumb out for publication. In 1915, after leaving Bucharest, he became co-editor of the review Orizonturi noi and continued to publish poetry, prose, and book reviews under a multitude of pseudonyms. In 1916, he became a secretary at the Directory of Secondary and Superior Education in the Ministry of Instruction, and was in Bucharest when Plumb first appeared in July. In October, however, the vagaries of war forced him to flee the threatened Bucharest to Iaşi with the archives of his department.

Bacovia returned to Bucharest in 1917, resuming his post as a functionary. In 1920, he became a Chief of Office, in the Ministry of Labour and was continuously promoted many times where he held several positions in the state. However, he immediately fell ill with a lung condition and was forced to resign before returning, a year later, to Bacău. Meanwhile, Bacovia found work as a teacher of drawing and calligraphy at the Boys’ Commercial School in Bacău. By 1925, however, he had become the primary director of the review Ateneu cultural, and published his book of poetry ‘Scântei galbene’ (Yellow sparks) at his own expense. In the same year ‘Bucăţi de noapte’ (Night fragments) appeared in an edition edited by the poet Agatha Grigorescu.

In 1928, Bacovia married Agatha Grigorescu, editor of Bucăţi de noapte, and settled in Bucharest, where his wife was a teacher. In 1929, he republished Plumb and Scântei galbene in a single edition, entitled Poezii. He gained a post as an inspector at the Ministry of Popular Education, but after the publication of his collection Cu voi (With you), he returned with his wife to Bacău, where he spent three years unemployed. In 1931, Agatha gave birth to Bacovia’s only son, Gabriel. The family returned to Bucharest permanently in 1933, never to move away again. In 1934, Bacovia published an anthology of his poems entitled ‘Poezii’. He then founded the House of Pensions for Writers, from which he subsequently drew a 10,000-lei monthly pension. In 1944 his ‘Opere’ (Works) appeared, a collection including all of his previously published works.

After the war

In 1945, Bacovia was named librarian of the Ministry of Mines and Oil. He continued to write, and in 1946 published the volume ‘Stanţe burgheze’ (Bourgeois positions), which led to his hiring by the Ministry of the Arts. In 1956 he published his final volume of Poezii before dying on the afternoon of May 22nd 1957 in his Bucharest residence.

 Scene

White trees, black trees
Naked in the solitary park:
A scene of mourning, bleak ...
White trees, black trees.

Again the regrets weep in the park ...

With white feathers, black feathers
Wanders a bird with a stark
Voice through the age-old park...
With white feathers, black feathers.

The phantoms appear in the park...

And white leaves, black leaves;
White trees, black trees;
And white feathers, black feathers,
A scene of mourning, bleak...

A gradual, thin snowfall in the park...

****