Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kurunthokai – 290

Those who advice me to endure the pain of love,
do they even know about it? Are they so strong?
As for me, if I don’t see my lover,
with my heart swelling in grief,
like a spray of foam
dashing on rocks in high tide,
bit by bit I cease to exist.

‘காமம் தாங்குமதி’ என்போர்தாம் அஃது
அறியலர்கொல்லோ? அனை மதுகையர் கொல்?
யாம், எம் காதலர்க் காணேம்ஆயின்,
செறிதுனி பெருகிய நெஞ்சமொடு, பெருநீர்க்
கல் பொரு சிறு நுரை போல,
மெல்லமெல்ல இல்லாகுதுமே.

This Kurunthokai poem is about a girl pining for her lover. He hasn’t come to see her in a long time. Her friend asks her to be strong and bear the pain. In reply she says “those who talk about  enduring the pain know nothing about it. May be they think they are strong. But I am not. If I don’t see him soon, I will pass away  due to my grief”.

The simile used in this poem is remarkable. In high tide, the foaming waves dash on rocks and slowly dissipate and vanish. She says she too will cease to exist like that foam.

பெருநீர் is explained as great floods by U Ve Saminatha Iyer. Others too have followed the same meaning. However I think it makes sense as waves in high tide. This poem is in நெய்தல் திணை(the coastal landscape), where waves make more sense as a simile. பெருநீர் also means ocean. Hence I have taken பெருநீர் as high tide.


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