Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kurunthokai – 152

Those who chide me, know not a thing –
my passion’s like a hatchling
sustained by the sight of its mother;
if my lover forsakes me, it’ll wither
like an unhatched egg, for what else sustains it?

யாவதும் அறிகிலர், கழறுவோரே-
தாய் இல் முட்டை போல, உட்கிடந்து
சாயின் அல்லது, பிறிது எவன் உடைத்தே?
யாமைப் பார்ப்பின் அன்ன
காமம், காதலர் கையற விடினே.

He hasn’t come back and she is pining for him. Her frien asks her to stop wasting away. This is her reply. “All those who scold me know nothing. My passion is sutained by the sight of him, like how a hatchling of a tortoise sustains itself by seeing its mother. If he forsakes me and doesn’t come home, my passion will die like an egg abandoned by its mother. For what else sustains my passion but being near him?”

The similes are striking.

“தாய் இல் முட்டை போல் உட்கிடந்து செயின் அல்லது” – ”To die inside the shell, like an egg abandoned by its mother” ;
“யாமைப் பார்ப்பின் அன்ன காமம்” – “Passion like a hatchling of a tortoise” . Sustained by the sight of its mother is implied in the original. I have made it explicit in the translation.

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