Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kurunthokai – 41

My friend ! When my lover is by my side,
I rejoice like the people of a festive town;
I lose my sparkle and languish,
like an empty house deserted by people –
where squirrels scamper  in the courtyard –
in that quaint town, when he moves away.

காதலர் உழையர் ஆகப் பெரிது உவந்து,
சாறு கொள் ஊரின் புகல்வேன் மன்ற;
அத்தம் நண்ணிய அம் குடிச் சீறூர்
மக்கள் போகிய அணில் ஆடு முன்றில்
புலப்பில் போலப் புல்லென்று
அலப்பென்-தோழி!-அவர் அகன்ற ஞான்றே.

When he is with her, she is joyful and soaks in the pleasure, like people of a festive town. But once he moves away, she feels all alone. The simile used by the poet is that of a deserted house in that town abandoned by people. The house is so deserted that the squirrels which hide in the roof come out to the court yard and play around. There is not a soul in sight. Complete emptiness. That is what she feels when he moves away from her.

Though she is surrounded by her friends and family, all of them don’t exist for her. He is the only person who matters in her life. Without him she feels like an empty house. The metaphor “அணில் ஆடும் முன்றில்” – “courtyard where squirrel scampers” signifies the emptiness in her life. The squirrel is nothing but her thoughts of him. They merrily skitter about in the loneliness she feels.

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