Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Thirikadugam – 24

Sweet words of an attractive lissome courtesan,
toad that’s baited in the hook, excessive civility
of hardened enemies – these three
are like quicksand that sucks in.

காண் தகு மென் தோள் கணிகை வாய் இன் சொல்லும்,
தூண்டிலினுள் பொதிந்த தேரையும், மாண்ட சீர்,
காழ்த்த பகைவர் வணக்கமும்,-இம் மூன்றும்
ஆழ்ச்சிப் படுக்கும், அளறு.

This poem from Thirikadugam talks about things to be careful of. Courtesan’s words, baited toad, civility of enemies – these three look good but have dangers hidden in them. If one accepts them at face value, they will suck in like quicksand and take one’s life.

அளறு – hell / quagmire. The commentary by Punnaivana Natha mudhaliar takes it as hell. The previous phrase ஆழ்ச்சிப் படுக்கும் means to sink into. Considering the examples in the poem, I have taken it as sinking into quicksand instead of sinking into hell.

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