Devadatta's Poems by Judith Beveridge
About the author
Judith Beveridge is the author of four previous collections of poetry which together have won the NSW and Victorian Premiers' Awards for poetry, and the Judith Wright Calanthe Award.
She is the poetry editor for Meanjin and teaches poetry writing at postgraduate level at the University of Sydney. Her poems have been widely anthologised, translated and studied in high schools.
About the book
Devadatta's Poems complement the sequence Between the Palace and the Bodhi Tree, published in Beveridge's earlier collection Wolf Notes, which followed the travels of Siddhattha Gotama before he became the Buddha.
These poems are written from the viewpoint of Devadatta, Siddhattha's jealous and ambitious cousin, who attempted to murder him three times. They are marked by extraordinary richness of language and detail, and a dedication to sensation.
Devadatta was the cousin of Siddhattha Gotama, otherwise known as the Buddha, and Beveridge imaginatively recreates his voice to evoke the physical presence, in lush sensuous detail, of a long-distant time and place.
That voice is both rivalrous and lascivious, as Devadatta envies his cousin's achievements as much as he lusts after his wife. Some of these eloquent, image-rich poems intentionally take liberties with what is known of the historic record but in doing so they examine the nuances of a complex familial relationship.
The tension between the cousins supplies a narrative framework for these lyrical glimpses into the mind of a restless and disappointed character.