Richard de Zoysa Poems

Richard de Zoysa was a well-known Sri Lankan human rights activist, author, actor, and writer. He was abducted and murdered in February 1990. An award recognizing independent journalism was established in his memory by the UN. Read more of Richard de Zoysa’s Biography.


by Richard de Zoysa

The poem ‘Lepidoptera’ is a metaphorical representation of a mentally ill mind, likened to a broken butterfly wing. The poet is imploring society to support those with mental illness.

Richard De Zoysa was a Sri Lankan journalist, writer, and human rights activist. He is best known for his efforts to promote human rights and justice in Sri Lanka. Based on Richard de Zoysa’s use of vivid imagery, metaphor, and social commentary, 'Lepidoptera' is a representative example of his style. Additionally, the poem's emphasis on the fragility of the mind and the importance of empathy and compassion align with themes that recur in de Zoysa's other works.

On broken butterfly wing,

your crippled mind fluttered into my schoolroom. Failed. And died.

I couldn’t do a thing to stir its organs

of poor maimed sense to life again.

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