Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kurunthokai – 131


Town of the the girl with big battling eyes
and swaying bamboo like strong graceful shoulders,
is far away and tough to reach; my heart,
if you rush ahead overcome with desire,
like a farmer with a single plow
rushing to seed the rain fed field, I suffer.

ஆடு அமை புரையும் வனப்பின் பணைத் தோள்
பேர் அமர்க் கண்ணி இருந்த ஊரே
நெடுஞ் சேண் ஆர் இடையதுவே; நெஞ்சே,
ஈரம் பட்ட செவ்விப் பைம் புனத்து
ஓர் ஏர் உழவன் போல,
பெரு விதுப்பு உற்றன்றால்; நோகோ யானே

This is one of the popular Kurunthokai poems. He is in a distant land, far away from his lady love. His job is over and he is about to go back home. His heart rushes ahead of him and wants to reach the girl with beautiful shoulders and lively eyes in double quick time. He admonishes his heart saying, “Her town is far away and tough to reach. Like a farmer with a single plow rushing to seed his wet green field, you are rushing ahead. This will cause me to suffer. So stay quiet”

The simile farmer with a single plow makes this poem stand out. The farmer with a single plow has to plough and seed his wet field before it dries off. So he rushes to plough his field as his time is short. So does our man’s heart rush towards the girl as each moment is precious. He had promised her that he will come back by monsoon. Monsoon has arrived. She will be waiting for him. But he is still far away. There is a long way to go before he meets her. The pain is aggravated by his heart rushing ahead of him and making him suffer.

அமர் – tranquil (or) fight, based on context. U Ve Saa takes it as fighting eyes in his commentary. AK Ramanujan uses eyes full of peace in his translation. I go with U Ve Saa’s commentary.

செவ்வி – fresh / season. I have used it as season to seed.

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