The name Venkata kavi by itself suggests clearly that this mega-composer was revered as a great poet as much as a vaggeyakara. To be respected as a great poet (mahakavi) apart from a composer, a higher pedestal of imagination is a pre-requisite. Measuring up to the common grammatical yardsticks of a poet/composer such as rhyme, alliteration, meter, use of simile and metaphors, was easy for many composers and many carnatic composers have displayed their competence in these areas. But, to be a great composer and an equally great poet is no ordinary skill and Venkata kavi stood a class apart in this respect.

Requisites of a great poet

  1. Original imagination – This is born from the ability to visualize images and details at the microscopic and macroscopic level. It comes as a rare gift to a very few grand poets and that is why they stand out among the league of talented poets.
  2. Storehouse of knowledge and scholarship – Ideas without solid knowledge and scholarship can never survive the test of time.
  3. Refreshing vocabulary – To be able to paint a virtual scenario with the magic of a refreshing and abundant vocabulary is again a rarity among composers and poets as they always choose the best words for the right contexts.
  4. Torrential thought process – Great poets are inundated by an unending thought process that often haunts them. An exemplary poet stays immersed deeply in this torrential flow.

Venkata kavi was a personification of the above pre-requisites and his compositions can be enjoyed not only from the musical perspective but for its poetic value too.

In the composition, Neela malar (Vasanta), the description in the charanam is unparalleled.

vaanavillai kaanuhinra vanna vanna niramellaam
vandu vandu sharan puhundado
mona ezhil kaana naani vaanamadiyaanadanji
moolanathan shadai ponado
gaana mazhai pozhindida gandharuvar kinnararum
maanamanji maraindanaro

"Did the colours of the rainbow surrender themselves to you? Did the moon that feared competing with your elegance, go and hide itself in Lord Shiva's locks? Did the gandharvas and kinnaras (celestial beings) go into hiding after hearing your musical downpour?"

In Madhava hrdi khelini (Saptaratna in Kalyani), the adjectives used to refer to Radha are very refreshing

shree hari premaakhanda mandala saamraajya adhipate (radhe rasayuta)

"One who rules over the entire orbit in Krshna's kingdom of love"

taazhai madaneetu nokkum mullai paarkkum enna
sowkhiyamo enru ketkum ada
mozhi peshida iduvo pozhudenave varu maadhavan
muttu mudiyile shervom ange
metta metta peshi nervom

"One flower asks another flower - how are you? The other flower replies – is this the time to be talking when our Krshna is expected to come. Let us first join in decorating his beautiful hair and then talk in leisure!! "

This beautiful imagination has been composed as part of the Chindu (folk song) – kannan varuhinra neram.

Another enticing description of Lord Krshna is found in the Vachaspati song, Ennattai shonnaalum.

nittam oru ezhil nimisham oru vannam
attanaiyum kaana padinaayiram kanhal venum
muttanna nahaiyaadum muhattazhahai kandu
pittam pidittalaiyum en chittamum kooda naanum
vittaihal sharanaahum venugaanattai kettu tan
vegam adangi nirkum yamunai nadittaanum
ettishaiyum potrum kaalinga natam idai
ettanai kan kondaalum attanaiyum venum

Even a ten thousand eyes are not sufficient to behold your perpetual beauty and your varied colours. Looking at your beautiful face and pearl-like smile, even my crazy mind is put to shame. Having listened to your music, even the fiercely flowing Yamuna River will slow down in its course. The joy of watching the Kalinga natana (dance on the serpent) that is celebrated all over will never reach saturation.