Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kurunthokai – 399

My love sickness is like moss that gathers
around the town’s water well –
as long as he’s touching, it keeps away,
as soon as he leaves, it spreads back.

ஊர் உண் கேணி உண்துறைத் தொக்க
பாசி அற்றே பசலை-காதலர்
தொடுவுழித் தொடுவுழி நீங்கி,
விடுவுழி விடுவுழிப் பரத்தலானே.

This is one of the popular poems in Kurunthokai. She pines for him and is wasting away. She tells her friend that the only cure for this sickness is to be with him forever. She likens her sickness to the moss that spreads near the drinking water well. When one touches the surface, the moss moves away. As soon as the hand is removed, the moss comes back. தொடுவுழித் தொடுவுழி – தொட்டுக் கொண்டிருக்கும் தோறும் – as long as he touches. விடுவுழி விடுவுழி – விட்டுப் பிரியும் தோறும் – every time he leaves. Their relationship is secret. So they keep meeting and parting often. As long as he is with her she is fine. The moment he leaves her she falls sick.

Most translators take கேணி  as water tank or pond. However U Ve Saa in his commentary clearly says it is கிணறு – well. In my ancestral village,  we still use the word கேணி  for well. So decided to go with that.

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