Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer, best known for his classical style of poetry in the 20th century, is one of the greatest contributors to Malayalam literature. Ulloor, Mahakavi Kumaran Asan and Vallathol Narayana Menon are the triumvirate poets often referred to as the pillars of modern Malayalam poetry.
Though he used scholarly language while writing, Ulloor’s poems have been widely accepted because of the way they resonate with the common man. In his works, Ulloor gives importance to both classical literature and Indian culture. His poems comprise Sanskrit words, stories from mythology, and unusual satire. His writings also reflect a blend of emotion and inquisition.
On this day, which marks the 67th year of his remembrance, it is important to acknowledge Ulloor and his immortal works.
“Ulloor’s contribution to Malayalam language is very valuable. I have heard that the life breath behind the Kshetra Praveshana Vilambaram (Temple Entry Proclamation) was Ulloor. It may be a political or a social issue. But, Ulloor gave a face to it. He has mentioned in his poem ‘Premasangeetham’ that the only religion in the world is love. In order to end all the atrocities in the world, people should listen to his message,” says Perumbadavam Sreedharan, author and Chairman of Kerala Sahithya Academy.
Ulloor was born in Changanassery as Sambha Sivan. After the death of his father, Subrahmaniya Iyer, he shifted to his father’s house at Ulloor along with mother Bhagavathi Ammal. Ulloor started his professional journey as a teacher and later entered the government sector. At the time of his retirement from office, he was Divan Peshkar. Apart from being a poet, Ulloor also excelled at being a researcher, critic, editor, etc.
The poems of Ulloor stand out from the works of other popular figures in Malayalam literature. Often referred to as Ulloor Ujvala Shabdadyan (the one who uses hard but proper words) in Malayalam poetry, he played a key role in bringing in the concept of romanticism in Malayalam literature. Prior to his days, devotion was the favourite subject of poets. After this, the modern triumvirate poets upstaged the conventional style of the verse and Ulloor revived the classical legacy of Malayalam poetry.
Ulloor’s poems speak of love as well as the congruence of man and nature. Love is, in fact, a central theme to many of Ulloor’s poems. ‘Premasangeetham’, which is a classical expression of love, ends with a metaphysical saying, “paramaarthathil paranum njnaanum bhavaanumonnalle… (you, me and almighty are the same).”
Times have changed and readers do not make the effort to understand and enjoy the literary works of poets like Ulloor. However, it would be an injustice to study Malayalam literature without considering this great poet who made his readers think. For the generations of Malayalees who enjoy good literature, Ulloor continues to be an inspiration.