Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Puranaanooru – 256

Oh master potter! master potter!
Like a small white lizard stuck
to the wagon’s axle hub spoke,
I traveled many an arid land with him;
show me some mercy.
To bury him in this ground,
shape a flared burial urn
that’s wide enough for me too,
this vast ancient town’s master potter.

கலஞ்செய் கோவே கலஞ்செய் கோவே
அச்சுடைச் சாகாட் டாரம் பொருந்திய
சிறுவெண் பல்லி போலத் தன்னொடு
சுரம்பல வந்த வெமக்கு மருளி
வியன்மல ரகன்பொழி லீமத் தாழி
அகலி தாக வனைமோ
நனந்தலை மூதூர்க் கலஞ்செய் கோவே.

Poem no. 256 of Puranaanooru. Poet’s name is unknown. A dead warrior’s wife asks the town potter to make a burial urn that has space enough for her to be buried along with him. The ‘for me too’ is implied and not explicitly stated in the Tamil original. The simile used in this poem is arresting. A white lizard that is stuck to the wheel spoke will travel wherever the wagon wheel goes. Like that she traveled her entire life with her husband. Now he has left her and died. She doesn’t want to live without him, so she wants to buried along with him.

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