Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

PazhaMozhi 400 – 10

When a close friend and his foe bicker,
one who incites both as if he’s their wellwisher,
instead of taking either’s side as a friend,
is called a torch lit in both ends.

பெரிய நட்டார்க்கும் பகைவர்க்கும், சென்று,
திரிவு இன்றித் தீர்ந்தார்போல் சொல்லி, அவருள்
ஒருவரோடு ஒன்றி ஒருப்படாதாரே,
இரு தலைக் கொள்ளி என்பார்.

When a close friend and his foe have a fight, one should take the side of either one of them. One who goes and talks to both as if he is their friend and incites them, making sure that they don’t reconcile is called a torch lit in both ends. He will damage them both.

Pazhamozhi 400 (Proverbs 400) is one of the 18 post Sangam collections. It was written by முன்றுறை அரையனார் (Mundrurai Arayanar, Chief of Mundrurai) and is generally dated to around 5th Century AD.

இருதலைக் கொள்ளி – a torch lit at both ends. The phrase  இருதலைக் கொள்ளி எறும்பு – an ant stuck in a torch that burns at both ends – is in common usage in Tamil Nadu even today.

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