The Romantic Poetry
The lyrical poetry gave way to Romantic poetry in course of time. Romanticism flourished with the appearance of the great trio Asan, Ulloor and Vallathol.
Kumaran Asan
Kumaran Asan belonged to the Ezhava community which was socially backward. He represented his community's struggle for social equality.
Kumaran Asan was the disciple of the great spiritual master and great seer Sri Narayana Guru (1856-1929). Guru was the person who inspired the Ezhava community towards social revolution. He himself has authored a number of books in Tamil, Sanskrit and Malayalam.
Asan's poems are primarily pessimistic. He has always had a serious approach to poetry. In his poem Viina puuvu (fallen flower), he draws parallels between the fallen flower and the human life. When the flower falls on the ground, he mourns for it asking himself to turn away his eyes from the pathetic sight. The flower will go back to dust very soon. This, he states, is the lot of the human being.
His two Narrative poems Nalini (1911) and Leela (1914) although apparently love stories depicting human relationships have got deeper messages to convey. The ultimate victory of love over life is the point that is stressed in these poems. Asan's work Chintaavishtayaaya sitaa (Thoughtful sita) (1919) is one of the best works in Malayalam. His Duravasta (calamity) deals with the love affair of a Namboodiri girl and a Pulaya youth. Another work Chandaala bhikshuki (outcaste ) depicts the growth of personal love into the wider realm of love of humanity itself. Karuna (compassion), his last work gives an account of a courtesan who falls in love with Buddha's young disciple Upagupta. Here too love is not personalized nor physical.
Ulloor Parameswara Iyer (1877-1949) was a poet who attempted to revive the classical heritage of Malayalam poetry. He was a Brahmin and therefore unlike Asan he did not suffer social ostracism of any kind. He was a government servant who finally became the Chief Secretary to the Travancore Government.
Ulloor was an erudite scholar which is reflected in his work Kerala Saahitya Charitham (History of the Literature of Kerala), which consists of five volumes. His long poem-mahaakaavya-named Umaakeralam (1914) has as its theme, a particular phase in Kerala's history. The poem deals with the politics related to the monarchical power of Travancore in the 17th century. Among his shorter narrative poems, Pingala and Karnabhuushanam are important.
Vallathol Narayana Menon (1878-1958) was a very expressive poet who was well known for his extremely musical compositions. Vallathol could create musical verses from a very young age. He was an ardent patriot who created poems that have revealed his deep love for his motherland.
Some of Vallathol's poems narrate certain incidents, taken from Puranas, and ancient texts like Kathaasaritsaagaram. His Chitrayogum deals with the theme of a love story from the Kathaasaritsaagaram. Another small narrative poem Bhandanasthanaaya Aniruddhan (1914) is taken from the Puranas. Saahityamanjari (7vols.) is a collection of his poems.
Vallathol was always attracted by the simplicity and innocence of young children. In Kilikonchal (Parrot prattling ), we see the Sita of the Ramayana as the main Character. She is a five year old girl who happens to see two parrots that come to her garden the birds recite the Raamayana poem. When they say that Rama marries Sita, her mother is happy. But she cries and says, that she wants to be married to no one else other than her mother. This gives a clue that at the end of the Ramayana story Sita finds refuge in her mother's arms and not Rama's.
Another poem where Vallathol describes Akrura's visit to Vrindavan, gives picturesque accounts of the pure and rustic atmosphere around. His Magdalana Mariyam describes the story of Mary Magdalene.
Romanticism found wonderful expression in other poets like Edappalli (1909-36) and Changampuzha (1914-48). Edapalli belonged to a poor family. He was not fortunate enough to get employment. He was unlucky in love, and he committed suicide, when he was only twenty seven.
Edappally's close friend Changampuzha was a person who was very emotional. This excessive emotionalism made him enter into a number of emotional involvements. He was addicted to alcohol. However, his life style resulted in wasted health and an attack of T.B. which claimed his life in 1948 when he was thirty four.
Changampuzha's most famous work Ramanan is a lament on the death of Edappalli. Ramanan was written when Changampuzha was only twenty. The poem is of the pastoral elegy type. It is characterized by beautiful, straight forward verses, that appeal to the sensitive heart. His expression of passions is intense, as can be observed in the work Mohini, which is the story of a lover who cannot even imagine that the beauty of his beloved would fade ultimately. So he stabs her to death, in the prime of her youth and beauty.
The poet has an intense desire to be preoccupied with himself. This kind of narcissicsm is found throughout his works. But he loves pain and is attracted to it, as is seen in the following lines:
  Pain, pain, intoxicating pain
Let me be submerged in it.