Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Naaladiyaar – 135

Learning’s vast; learner’s time short;
a lot ails that too, if we think about it;
so, the wise choose their books carefully,
like the swan that drinks milk, filtering out water.

கல்வி கரை இல; கற்பவர் நாள் சில;
மெல்ல நினைக்கின், பிணி பல; தெள்ளிதின்
ஆராய்ந்து அமைவுடைய கற்பவே, நீர்ஒழியப்
பால்உண் குருகின் தெரிந்து

This is poem no.135 from Naaladiyaar. It echoes Latin “Ars longa, vita brevis” (Art is long,Life is short) of Hippocrates’ Greek Aphorismi.

The  poet says that we have very little time to learn. So wise men are careful  in choosing the books they read. Like the mythical swan that filters out water and drinks only milk. Other birds may consume diluted milk. But the swan is particular on what it consumes.

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