Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Nattrinai – 27

Her friend says:
Yesterday, all that you and I did was
to chase bees that swarm the fine pollen of flowers,
in the grove circled by backwaters with banks
of white sand deposited by dashing waves,
nothing else did we do on the sly; even if we did so,
it hasn’t spread for others to know –
then what does mom think? – even after seeing
the round stemmed flowers that have bloomed
like our eyes, in shark infested shallow waters
where herons feeding on prawns croak noisily,
she doesn’t tell us, ‘those small lilies
with tender leaves, why don’t you go pluck them’.

தோழி கூற்று :
நீயும் யானும்,  நெருநல், பூவின்
நுண் தாது உறைக்கும் வண்டினம் ஓப்பி,
ஒழி திரை வரித்த வெண் மணல் அடைகரைக்
கழி சூழ் கானல் ஆடியது அன்றி,
கரந்து நாம் செய்தது ஒன்று இல்லை; உண்டு எனின்,
பரந்து பிறர் அறிந்தன்றும்இலரே-நன்றும்
எவன் குறித்தனள் கொல், அன்னை?-கயந்தோறு
இற ஆர் இனக் குருகு ஒலிப்ப, சுறவம்
கழி சேர் மருங்கின் கணைக் கால் நீடி,
கண் போல் பூத்தமை கண்டு, ‘நுண் பல
சிறு பாசடைய நெய்தல்
குறுமோ, சென்று’ எனக் கூறாதோளே.

This poem is in Neithal thinai , the coastal landscape. He is waiting in the grove near the seashore to meet her. They have met there earlier too. But her friend warns her that it is not good to keep meeting clandestinely. People of the hamlet  might start to gossip. So the friend says to her, “Listen, yesterday we were just chasing bees in the grove and did nothing else. Even if we did something, nobody knew. Do you think your mom knows? Normally when she sees flowers blooming in the shallow waters she’ll ask us to go and pluck them. But today she isn’t asking us to go to those shark infested waters where herons croak noisily. So maybe she knows. Let’s not go to the grove today”

The poem has two beautiful sets of metaphors. First  is the bees swarming the flowers – like how he is following her relentlessly. When the friend says we chased the bees away, she means that you didn’t fall for his words. But the friend isn’t sure. So in the next line she says even if we did, nobody  knew. The second metaphor is Shark – him, lily flowers – her, and the croaking herons – gossiping village people.

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