Patrick Fernando, Sri Lankan who Won Global Recognition


Patrick Fernando (1931 -1983) - a Sri Lankan poet who won international recognition – is considered as one of the accomplished poets in Sri Lanka writing in English. Most of his subject of writing were people, things and places the poet had been in close contact with. Significantly, Fernando’s work does not make much references to milestones in Socio-political histories in Sri Lanka like independence, 1971 JVP uprising, Terrorism, introduction to open economy…etc. His writing style possibly influenced by various range of poetry and poets. Therefore, he is found as a unique figure among the contemporary poets like Lakdasa Wickramasinge, and Yasmine Gooneratne.

Fernando's first book of poems was published in 1955, and the momentous changes of 1956 were not important in his case. His poems possess a framework provided by Christianity (Roman Catholicism) and Western Classics; his poems have been published abroad (his 1955 collection was published in London and occasionally his poems have appeared in foreign anthologies too).


His Works

Fernando's poems wrote poems under several categories.  His personal poems, such as "The Way of the Adjutant Stork," and genre pictures of Negombo fisher folk, such as "The Fisherman Mourned by His Wife" and "Sun and Rain on the West Coast," are some of them. "The Fisherman Mourned by His Wife" is generally praised without serious reservation by Sri Lankan critics and readers.

Later, Fernando produced permanent themes as the enduring power and tragic destiny of love in "The Lament of Paris." Later in his career, Fernando grew increasingly fond of writing symbolic poems, usually investing Nature with symbolic meanings as in his observations on procreation in "Survivors" and the destruction of things beautiful and splendid by violent and incongruous forces in "Life and Death of a Hawk"

At every stage in Fernando's career, irony is crucial to his work; it is a feature of his technique as well as what shapes his vision of life. It enables him to see contradictions as inherent in, and central to, life and to reconcile himself to these.

As M . I. Kuruvilla suggests in his seminal essay "Modem Sri Lankan English Poetry," Fernando's language, like John Crowe Ransome's, is polished and minted, yet familiar and conversational, and his forms well-crafted and orthodox (239).

Yasmine Gooneratne, in her article "'Unhelpful Isolation': The Literary Correspondence of Patrick Fernando," observes of Fernando: "He was firm in dissociating his own poetic practice from the technical experiments made by some poets in the 1960s and 1970s with a view to introducing a local sense into their English verse" (103).


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