Ramakanta Rath is modernist poet and the most renowned in writing poems in the Odia language. He was greatly influenced by the poets like T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Rath is known for his reflective poems which were not bound by the constraints of form and style. His poems reflect the thoughts and quest for the unknown, the mystery of life and death, the inner emotional turmoil inside all. He is known internationally for his poetry collection Sri Radha, which has been translated into several languages. He is a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award (1977), Bishuva Samman (1990), Saraswathi Samman (1992, and the Padma Bhushan in 2006.
Rath was born on 13 December, 1934 in Cuttack, Odisha, India. He completed his MA in English Literature from Ravenshaw College in Odisha. He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1957, while continuing his love for poems. He occupied several important positions in the government till his retirement as the Chief Secretary Odisha in 1992.
Some of his major works of poetry are in these collections:
- Kete Dinara, 1962
- Aneka Kothari, 1967
- Sandigdha Mrigaya, 1971
- Saptama Ritu, 1977
- Sachitra Andhara, 1982
His renowned long poem are, Sri Radha, 1984; and Sri Palataka, 1997. Many of these have been translated into several Indian languages, as well as in English.
He was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1977, Saraswathi Samman in 1992, Bishuva Samman in 1990. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2006. He served as the President of the Sahitya Akademi from 1998 to 2003, prior to which, he was also the Vice-President of the Akademi from 1993 to 1998. In February 2009, he was awarded a Sahitya Akademi Fellowship.
A Quote from his Poetry Collection “Sri Radha”
The morning today
is somehow very different.
What impudence in the sunlight!
The wind’s thoughts are wandering,
as though it has seen the long-banished lover
living in disguise
in the neighborhood.
Ramakanta Rath is considered as a philosopher-poet. He is regarded in high esteem for his poetry which reflects the myriad shades of life, including those of melancholy, sadness and the inevitable truth of the ephemeral nature of life. He does not shy away from the negatives of life, as his poems often also reflect a feeling of pessimism, and his refusal to be a preacher of goodness. His poems, which are full of spiritual and metaphysical thoughts on life, have been translated into several languages.
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah