Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kurunthokai – 3

Larger than the earth, loftier than the sky,
lot more deeper than the ocean,
is my love for the man from the hillside,
where copious honey is drawn
from dark stemmed Kurinchi flowers.

நிலத்தினும் பெரிதே வானினு முயர்ந்தன்று
நீரினு மாரள வின்றே சாரற்
கருங்கோற் குறிஞ்சிப் பூக்கொண்டு
பெருந்தே னிழைக்கு நாடனொடு நட்பே.

 

Neelakurinji
Kurinchi flower  (pic:www.munnartourguide.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a well known poem from Kurunthokai (Kuru – short, Thokai – anthology. Anthology of 400 short poems). He is waiting for her. Her friend thinks that this clandestine relationship is going nowhere and chastises her. She replies saying my love for him is larger than the earth, loftier than the sky and deeper than the ocean. Bees drawing honey out of flowers in the hillside is a metaphor for their intimacy in the hillside. She indicates to her friend that their love has been consummated.

Kurinchi flowers bloom once in 12 years. (They last bloomed in Nilgiris in 2006). Honey from them is rare to obtain and sweeter. The poet uses it with the  adjective great – பெருந்தேன் (great honey). I have used copious. Bees are not explicitly mentioned in the original poem but implied. I have maintained the same in translation.

These lines written 2000 years ago, reminds one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s lines “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height / my soul can reach” from her “How do I love thee” sonnet. Similar lines are also found in Petula Clark’s 1960s song My Love “My love is warmer than the warmest sunshine / Softer than a sigh / My love is deeper than the deepest ocean/Wider than the sky.”

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