The following poem was read out to the Sri Lanka parliament by the Hon Lakshman Jayakody and appeared in the Hansard 1998. It was reprinted in the ‘Anthology of the Galle Literary Festival 2007-2009.’ It is very relevant even today.



O, Mother Lanka,
in so many ways have I known thee,
in so many ways adored thee

The dawn on the windswept marshes of the south,
wild calls, green aisles,
the romance of the God on the mountain.
The blankets of forest, the patchwork of life,
the home of the health of the people

The beauty and grace that I once beheld,
before my eyes to ashes fade.
Tall Hora forests with emerald glades,
rise, shoulder high to the hills.
Those vast green giants with shadowy shrouds
of mist and cloud
are all but gone,
and with them
the myriad living jewels that line the forest floor.

The elfin forests of the highest hills, stretched,
a thin tenuous line,
unbroken since the time,
of the mountains;
and here, a precious life
that tells so many stories of the past.
Lizards with horns,
frogs that fly,
gone are your days.
The line is broken.
The islands of forest on the mountain tops, get smaller,

Does no one see ?
Soon the fullness of this life will give way.
Rocky crags like gaunt bones
rise from the treeless hills,
hills stripped bare of the soil,
of generations past,
washed in a bloody rush
to bring the floods
to the fertile valleys below.

Does no one care?
To see beyond the profit
that lies in schemes
plotted with no thought,
of the land or its people,
or of their rights,
to land,
to air,
to water,
and a future free from needs.

What are these needs ?
When the Phospate rocks of Eppawala,
In the same manner as,
the Wira trees of the Mahaveli.
In crates and containers,
lifted to waiting ships,
and wafted far from these shores.
The nutrient that our paddy needs,
to give rice,
to live and continue,
will be over.
Just as the wood needed by the settlers,
to cook their food,
to protect their beings,
will be over.
The need of food ,
that is need.
The need of health that is need.

But the air is given,
and the water is given,
and the land is given,
to those with no respect,
for rights,
for life,
or future.
So the children of today,
when they turn from their play,
will find a world hungry,
sick and polluted.

Because the exploiters of their needs,
feed today’s greed,
with the economic logic of shortened sight,
with the political logic of instant might.

The precious earth that kings once trod,
drowned forever.
To become at best, a marshland,
that traps the soil descending,
off the mountains
in a bloody rush.

Dreams poorly thought,
schemes poorly wrought,
no heed of options,
or old established ways.
The bigger the project the bigger the pay.
Greed has come to claim the day.

Pompous, arrogant, blind with selfish greed,
strut the agents of demise.
Piously claiming great concern,
While all about the stage,
the trees get shorter,
the water gets browner,
and the meals get smaller,
But the stage nor its repair,
concerns them not for their play,
is for ranches and chalets elsewhere.
Or for stages bigger and brighter
for helicopter dreams
and dollar schemes.

From desire pain,
desire for self,
desire for sense,
desire for gold,
and even for the well being
of loved thoughts,
loved beings or loved lands,
seeing anicca and knowing the pain,
of ignorance.

O Mother Lanka,
in so many ways I have known thee,
in so many ways adored thee.

Grant me the strength,
to bear the pain,
and labour,
even if in vain,
to a future,
of honest bakthi,
As my chosen destiny