Poetry in the 19th century
The origin of the Malayalam Manorama in 1890, and the importance it gave to original contributions, gave impetus to the native poets to get their poems published. Pantalom Kerala Varma started as magazine called Kavana Kaumudi. In this journal, everything was in verse. This included announcements, reports, editorials, book reviews and advertisements. In such a poetic temper, there awakened a number of poetical works. There arose a new current of poetry, which can be termed as the Venmani movement. Those included in this group were the Senior Venmani (1816-90), his sons Kunjikuttan Thampuran (1865-1913) and Junior Venmani (1843-92), the Senior Natuvath Namboodiri (1840-1912), the junior Natuvath Namboodiri (1867-1943), Oravankara (1856-1916), Kochunni Thampuran (1857-1925) and Kundoor (1860-1935). The group used to have informal get togethers. This was a group which preferred single stanza poems called Muktaka poems.
Among the poems of this group, Poora Prabandham by Venmani Junior narrates the famous Pooram festival of Trichur. This group of poets had a carefree life devoid of worries, which is reflected in their compositions. Their works had a wonderful clarity about them. Poetry was a passion for them, that even mutual correspondence was effected in verse. The Venmani current, however reminds us of the Manipravalam times, where the main theme for poetry was the beauty of the female body. Still there remains the holy hymnal and didactic elements which are sometimes evident in their poems.
During this time, there lived Kerala Varma (1845-1914) who wrote his Mayura Sandesam (Peacock message) modeled on Kaalidasa's Mega Sandesam (Cloud messenger ). This was written when Kerala Varma was in house arrest. His longing for his wife is expressed through the work.
In 1902 there appeared the long poem Ramachandra Vilaasam by Azhakath. A.R. Rajaraja Varma's Malayala Vilaasam that was in 1895 had a lyrical quality about it. But modern lyricism had its beginnings in V.C. Balakrishna Panikkar's works. Within a short span of the only 26 years of his life he contributed a lot which clearly reveal his poetic genius. He wrote a book on poetics when he was only fifteen and was the editor of a literary journal when he was sixteen. His lyricism finds its best expression in the poem Visvaroopam(vision of the world). He has also written a poem Oru Vilaapam (a lament) which laments over the death of a beloved.