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Poet, lyricist and scholar, Jnanpith and Padma Vibhushan awardee ONV Kurup (1931–2016) has been a towering presence in Kerala’s cultural landscape for more than six decades. A loved and venerated teacher of Malayalam literature, a powerful orator and public intellectual, his poetry reverberates with the pains, hopes and dreams of the deprived, and the eternal value of love. This selection of poems, beautifully translated by K. Jayakumar, celebrates his humanist vision and his multidimensional genius.
The poems and songs of ONV, as he is known, have an unmistakable honesty, gravitas and restraint. Distinctive for their blend of spoken Malayalam with folk lyrics, ballads and epics, images drawn from everyday life, and an enduring empathy for the oppressed and the abandoned, ONV’s poetry conveys his universal vision of an equal, free and just world for all people across class and caste. His early belief in the essential unity of humankind and human progress continued till the end to be the core of his poetry, even as it addressed the vicissitudes of history and changing literary trends. Encompassing themes ranging from nature, ecology, mythology, history, nostalgia, memory, the flowering of humankind, reflections on mortality, to the cosmic dimension, his rich oeuvre proves that ‘nothing under the sun is alien to poetry.’
This volume will be a treat for poetry lovers, for those familiar with ONV and those reading him for the first time.
O. N. V. Kurup (1931–2016), poet, lyricist, teacher and scholar, has been a towering presence in Kerala’s cultural landscape for over six decades. While deeply rooted in the socio-political milieu of Kerala, his poetry has an unmistakable universality and humanism which has won him widespread acclaim and numerous awards, including the Jnanpith (2007) and the Padma Vibhushan (2011). He has published over thirty volumes of poetry, including Agni Shalabhangal (1971), Aksharam (1974), Uppu (1980) and Ujjayini (1994), and several works of prose and memoirs. He was also one of the foremost lyricists of Malayalam theatre and cinema who left behind a large corpus of popular songs.
K. Jayakumar is a bilingual poet, translator and lyricist who writes in Malayalam and English. He has published thirty books, translated Rabindranath Tagore, Kahlil Gibran and Rumi into Malayalam, and Jayadev’s Geet Govind into English. He has served as Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala, and as founding Vice-Chancellor of the Malayalam University, Tirur, Kerala.
O. N.V.: Poetry Framed by Music
Translator’s Note and Acknowledgements
The Poetry of O. N. V. Kurup: A Testament of Undying Hope and Optimism
1. An Ode to Orpheus
2. The Voice of India
3. Go Fly!
4. Bangle Shards
5. A Drop of Light
6. Once Again
7. The Earth
8. The Promised Land
9. Barren Clouds
11. I Dissected a Thousand Flowers
12. Thank You
14. Forgive Us, Michelangelo
15. Night Lily, How Blessed are You!
16. Little Grief
17. The Heaviness of Love