Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Ainkurunooru – 81

What the courtesan said:

In your town’s flower festooned pond
a stork breaks tortoise’s shell to eat its pale meat,
and the remains are consumed by drummers!
You say that you love me; If
your wife hears this, she’ll grieve a lot.

குருகு உடைத்து உண்ட வெள் அகட்டு யாமை
அரிப்பறை வினைஞர் அல்குமிசைக் கூட்டும்,
மலர் அணி வாயில் பொய்கை, ஊர! நீ
என்னை ‘நயந்தனென்’ என்றி; நின்
மனையோள் கேட்கின், வருந்துவள் பெரிதே.

Poem 81 from Ainkurunooru. This is said by the Courtesan to him. The courtesan has heard that his wife spoke ill of her. So when he comes to meet her, she says “Your wife will feel aggrieved if you are with me, so go away”. The interesting bit is the seemingly unrelated description of his town. “Like the drummers who eat the remains of what the stork has eaten, your wife gets to embrace you only after I have had my fill” is the courtesan’s way of putting down his wife.

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