Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kurunthokai – 43

Thinking “he won’t go” I was aloof;
thinking “she won’t agree” he was aloof too;
our big egos led us to bicker then;
my pained heart wallows in misery now,
as if from a Cobra’s sting.

”செல்வார் அல்லர்” என்று யான் இகழ்ந்தனனே;
”ஒல்வாள் அல்லள்” என்று அவர் இகழ்ந்தனரே:
ஆயிடை, இரு பேர் ஆண்மை செய்த பூசல்,
நல்அராக் கதுவியாங்கு, என்
அல்லல் நெஞ்சம் அலமலக்குறுமே.

This poem was written by Avvaiyaar, the leading poetess of Tamil Literature. Written 2000 years ago, it is as relevant today as it was then. This poem is a lament of how we let our egos erect walls in a relationship.

She thought he won’t go. So she kept quiet and didn’t ask him not to go. He thought that if he told her, she won’t let him go. So he kept quiet and didn’t tell her that he was going away. They both did not do what was needed to keep the relationship. This cold war naturally led to a tiff and he left. She laments  “because of our egos both of us bickered and now my heart suffers as if stung by a Cobra”. Why does she compare the pain of separation to a snake bite? A snake bite pains till one’s death. Similarly this pain of his going away will not alleviate till her death.

நல் அரா – Cobra / snake
கதுவு – grip ( a Cobra stings and holds on to the victim)
அலம் – misery
அலக்கு – move about (wallow)

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