Ramakanta Rath (b.1934) had his school education in small towns of Odisha. He passed the M.A Examination in English Literature from the Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1957 and held several important positions in the Government of India and Government of Odisha. He retired as Chief Secretary of the Government of Odisha in 1992.
Rath began writing from his early years in the College and, before he left College, was recognized as the moat promising young poet. His first Book (Of Many, Many Days, 1962) was acclaimed as the harbinger of a new poetics in which everyday speech was the idiom and the mood was distinctly un-Romantic, even ironical. His later poetry explored man’s inner world in which love and death are interwoven into a single reality of the most significant meaning. Subsequently, his poetry became more lyrical, through the language continued to be that of everyday life.
His long poem, Sri Radha, is recognized as a modern classic and has been translated into several languages. It has had a very wide readership. This long poem reinterprets the Radha-Krishna myth and presents Radha as the epitome of love that is intense, unaffected by the lover’s death and a means of knowing oneself. It is so popular that several lines of the poem have been memorized by many. According to Kathleen Raine, eminent English author and critic, “I know of no other poet who has achieved so intense and profound a poem of love — a masterpiece of remorseless uncovering of the ever-unfulfilled experience of erotic love that aspires to union with the divine which lies beyond human reach in this life.”