Monuments Poem Summary & Analysis by Kamala Wijeratne
Higher National Diploma in English – HNDE
The bus sweeps past the swinging trees
And the road unwinds long and cold
The chassis creaks with the load
And jolts to a halt by the road.
The bus stops for a moment to load
And I see the writing on the halt
A wayside monument etched in gold.
“IN MEMORY OF MY SON” I get a jolt.
The legend goes on, on every bus
Stand a new name every time but
The story’s old “To the hero who fell in the north
Erected by Father, Mother and next of kin”
More than a dozen names penetrated my mind.
But I remember the one common to all
“Bandara” master of the soil
Sons of those who teased out paddy from this land
They would have ploughed this soil
Gathered the harvest at reaping time
Followed their fathers with the paddy in bins
And sat by the hearth for the new rice
Served steaming and scented by a mother’s fond hands
While the Koha sang on the erabadu trees.
The inscriptions hug the white walls
And the bus swings in and out of halts.
I gaze at the unwinding miles of the road
And try to make the broken images whole
Vague shapes rise undefined in front of me
A farmer in a muddied loin cloth haunts me
And a housewife with billowing sleeves and string of beads
Stare at me out of the unwinding road
And their faces are stern with unshed tears.
Kamala Wijeratne in her poem, “Monuments” talks about the aftermath of the civil war that existed between two ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. She talks about the young soldiers who died untimely in the civil war.
Thus she speaks of the heroes who sacrificed their lives at war. We feel some anxiety about the young soldiers whose lives are doomed and commemorate the young soldiers who died in the prime of their life. “Monuments” discusses how parents lost their young children at war. The monuments built by their kin and kith prove it but it also reminds us of our ancient culture and the agricultural economy, how our ancestors cultivated the land and celebrated the national festivals performing the hereditary rights.
Subject-matter: monuments erected in memory of the soldiers who died in north
Main Theme: The loss of the young labour force in Sri Lanka
Sub-themes: the unexpressed sorrow of the parents of the dead soldiers, The traditional culture of Sri Lanka
Metaphor: sweeps past the swinging trees
Onomatopoeia: The chassis creaks with the load.
Implication: I get a jolt. : I’m shocked.
unshed tears: unexpressed sorrow
The legend goes on: the same story is repeated.
those who teased out paddy from this land: cultivators
Symbols: the Koha sang on the erabadu trees.
Personification: The inscriptions hug the white walls
Language: the ordinary language with omens