Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kurunthokai – 32

காலையும் பகலுங் கையறு மாலையும்  
ஊர்துஞ் சியாமமும் விடியலு மென்றிப்
பொழுதிடை தெரியிற் பொய்யே காமம்
மாவென மடலொடு மறுகிற் றோன்றித்  
தெற்றெனத் தூற்றலும் பழியே
வாழ்தலும் பழியே பிரிவுதலை வரினே.

Dawn or daytime or wretched dusk,
dead of the night or daybreak –
if aware of time, my love is false.
To get on a palm frond horse*
and make our affair public
is a shameful act;
but it’s a shame to live too,
if we’re apart.

*Riding a palm frond horse – மடல் ஊர்தல் .  This is the last resort by a man who cannot marry his love, either because her parents don’t accept or she herself is not ready to accept him. He gets on a horse made of palm fronds, which is dragged to the town center by his friends. He carries a drawing of the woman who has caused him to do this. The townspeople then ask the girl and her parents if they are acceptable to the marriage. If not, then the man leaves the town/takes his life.

He pleads to her friend to make her come and meet him. He says “I’m so besotted with her that I don’t know the time of the day. If I know the difference in time, then my love is false. If she doesn’t come and meet her, I will have to get on a palm frond horse, carry her picture and go public. That will be a shameful act on my part for it will let the town know of our affair. At the same time it is shameful for me to live when I am apart from her. So please help me.”

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One thought on “Kurunthokai – 32

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    “If aware of time, my love is false.” ❤️


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