Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Naaladiyaar – 331

Like a tortoise splashing about in the cooking pot
unaware of the hunter lighting it –
are those who revel in worldly tangles
while God of death waits for the right time.

கொலைஞர் உலை ஏற்றித் தீ மடுப்ப, ஆமை
நிலை அறியாது அந் நீர் படிந்தாடியற்றே-
கொலை வல் கொடுங் கூற்றம் கோள் பார்ப்ப, ஈண்டை
வலையகத்துச் செம்மாப்பார் மாண்பு.

Poem 331 from Naaladiyaar. This is the first poem in the chapter Ignorance (பேதைமை). This poem is about the ignorance of people who think that their world is permanent. I chose this poem for the simile of tortoise in a cooking pot. In old Tamil literature, the tortoise is used as a simile often. I think that these must have been fresh water tortoises found near farmlands.

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