Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kurunthokai – 112

If I fear slander, my passion will weaken;
if I give it up to avoid censure,
what’s left is just modesty;
You see, my friend!
Like a fibrous branch an elephant broke,
hanging precariously but not falling down,
is my virtue that he partook.

கௌவை அஞ்சின், காமம் எய்க்கும்;
எள் அற விடினே, உள்ளது நாணே;
பெருங் களிறு வாங்க முரிந்து நிலம் படாஅ
நாருடை ஒசியல் அற்றே-
கண்டிசின், தோழி!-அவர் உண்ட என் நலனே.

They have consummated their love and he has left. She is pining for him. Her neighbours have started gossiping about her.

She says “If I fear the gossip of these people, I have to hide my passion and it will weaken. If give up my passion completely to stop their reprimands, then all I will have left is only modesty. He has already taken my virtue. He has consummated our love and I can’t forget him now.

An elephant bends branches to eat leaves. The broken branch cannot regain its shape. It hasn’t fallen down but hangs precariously by slender fibres. Because it is still attached to the tree, there’s a hope that it can grow leaves again. Similarly he has consumed me and left me. So I am suffering. But if he comes back, I will bloom again. This passion is what keeps me alive.”

Precariously is not explicit in the original poem. I have added it for better readability in English. (பெண்மை)நலன்(ம்) – virtue / beauty is a poor substitute.

Here is a video link of a wild life camera capture of an elephant breaking a branch and eating leaves. http://www.africam.com/wildlife/tm_11_oct_2014_06_10_46flv


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