Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe

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A hundred yards from the temple
Where the tooth is now a business deal,
Just across the Lake, across the road,
By the side entrance of HNB,
The narrowest of the least extensive passages,
With “No Parking” signs, horns blaring free —

Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe Mawatha:

At the very foot,
Facing the thronged threewheel shed,
A name board in government cement,
The last king of the imperial Sinhala, dead.
By him, a defunct colour light,
Long accustomed to not being in use:
The homage-demander of yore now has not much to lose.

Of this formation I tell
A group to whom Ozymandias I read:
The poem of the long dead terror-striking monarch
Written by Percy B Shelley, dead. They listen to my story
In anecdote form. But, I wonder — wonder I seriously do:
If in that name board is preserved, in some metaphysic true,
The spirit of that Rajasinghe — condemned by the
Power hungry nobility of the early 19th century

To see the road to which they have given his name
Thoroughly discontented, would he be?
Even as Shelley wrote he was all yet the king
(And in a sense Shelley’s contemporary); would he have
Laughed at Shelley had to his chamber Shelley had come
And on Ozymandias given a rough commentary?
Surely, Rajasinghe would have known what one day was to come?

By the roadside, now, in a different century,
Another imperial palace — Kandy’s proud
City Center Mall — has come. Its side entrances as well
As the passages down its back open into the
Mawatha of the monarch, then, given the sack.
On which palace, then, would R. Singhe — in a new age — insist?
Triumph dummies all geared up in the Third Floor
By Odel and other such odes would he resist?

3

2013-01-04

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