Kurunthokai – 27
Like a fine cow’s sweet milk spilt on ground
neither sating its calf
nor milked in a pot,
my pale pudendum and dusky beauty
neither useful to me
nor satisfying my lord,
are left for love sickness to devour.
கன்றும் உண்ணாது, கலத்தினும் படாது,
நல் ஆன் தீம் பால் நிலத்து உக்காஅங்கு,
எனக்கும் ஆகாது, என்னைக்கும் உதவாது,
பசலை உணீஇயர் வேண்டும்-
திதலை அல்குல் என் மாமைக் கவினே
This is a well known poem in Kurunthokai. Written by Velli Veethiyaar, one of the few women poets in Sangam literature, this talks about a girl pining for her lover. They have separated and he has gone away (some commentators say she is widowed). She cannot forget him and because of that her beauty is losing its sheen. She equates that to a cow’s milk that is not drunk by its calf nor collected in a pot, spilling on the ground and going waste. An arresting simile.
Many translations and commentaries skip the word அல்குல் – pudendum / vulva. Based on context it either means pudendum or hip. In this poem it is clear that it is pudenda. I too thought of using an euphemism or skipping it altogether, but finally decided to stick to the original.