Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kambaramayanam – 3237

Her forehead’s like a bow, eyes are like spears,
teeth are like pearl and coral are her lips – ,
if I say so, words may match; meaning doesn’t;
Is there anything to compare her with?
To say Paddy is like grass, doesn’t convey it right.

வில் ஒக்கும் நுதல் என்றாலும், வேல் ஒக்கும் விழி என்றாலும்,
பல் ஒக்கும் முத்து என்றாலும், பவளத்தை இதழ் என்றாலும்,
சொல் ஒக்கும்; பொருள் ஒவ்வாதால்; சொல்லல் ஆம் உவமை உண்டோ?
“நெல் ஒக்கும் புல்” என்றாலும், நேர் உரைத்து ஆகவற்றோ

In Ramayana, after Lakshaman cuts her nose off, Surpanaka rushes to Lanka and provokes her brother Ravana to avenge her. Ravana asks who did this to her and what did you do to provoke them? She replies “I wanted the beautiful Sita with them to be your consort”. And proceeds to describe Sita’s beauty.

“I can say Sita’s forehead is curved beautifully like a bow, her eyes are sharp like spears and her teeth are even and white like pearls. Coral is her lips. But all these similes do not convey the full beauty of Sita. There’s nothing in the world to compare her with. It is like saying Paddy is like grass. Though technically right, it does not convey the riches of Paddy”

Kamban’s poems are meant to be read out loud. The cadence is a joy in itself. If you can read Tamil, read this out loud. I wasn’t able to match Kamban’s brevity, hence had to make it five lines instead of the original four lines.

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One thought on “Kambaramayanam – 3237

  1. Wonderful! Keep up the good work!


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