Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Puranaanooru – 349

Wiping sweat off his brow with a spear,
the ruler speaks harshly; without fear
her dad too uses strong words, will not bow.
This is their stance; this girl with dusky glow,
sharp teeth and red streaked eyes,
is like the chisel’s spark that burns a log down,
for her native town.

நுதிவேல் கொண்டு நுதல்வியர் துடையாக்
கடிய கூறும் வேந்தே தந்தையும்
நெடிய வல்லது பணிந்துமொழி யலனே
இஃதிவர் படிவ மாயின் வையெயிற்
றரிமதர் மழைக்க ணம்மா வரிவை
மரம்படு சிறுதீப் போல
அணங்கா யினடான் பிறந்த வூர்க்கே

A famous clan leader in the town of Sikkal (called the same today too) near Thanjavur, had a beautiful daughter. The King wanted to marry her. Her father thought that the King wasn’t worthy of his daughter. So the King marched to her town and threatened to raze it to the ground. Her father refuses to be cowed down. The bard knows that the small town cannot withstand the might of the ruler. Hence he says, like a spark that jumps from the chisel when a log is shaped and burns down the log from where it was born, this girl will be the end of this town.

The simile – chisel’s spark that burns the log from where it was born – is the highlight of this poem. Also the character sketches in few words – wiping sweat  with a spear – make this a memorable poem.





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