Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kainnilai – 50

O’ long and cool seashore! I won’t tell you;
Ibis nesting on closed palm fronds, I won’t tell it too;
Long legged stork roaming in backwaters!
you were there when he vowed;  listen.

நெடுங் கடல் தண் சேர்ப்ப! நின்னோடு உரையேன்;
ஒடுங்கு மடல் பெண்ணை அன்றிற்கும் சொல்லேன்;
கடுஞ் சூளின் தான் கண்டு, கானலுள் மேயும்
தடந் தாள் மட நாராய்! கேள்.

They have met discreetly, fallen in love and became physically intimate. He promised the earth to her and said he will come back soon. But he hasn’t. So she tells the Seashore, “I won’t tell my suffering to you. Because you weren’t witness to our rendezvous. Nor to the Ibis bird that nests on closed fronds in palm trees. But the egret in backwaters, you were there when he vowed to come back soon. You were the sole witness. I will tell you of my grief.”


Ibis nesting on Palm Tree – pixabay.com


Stork in backwaters – wikimedia

தண் – Cool
சேர்ப்பு – Seashore / wharf
ஒடுங்குதல் – close inwards
மடல் – frond
பெண்ணை – palm
அன்றில் – Ibis / heron
சூள் – promise
கானல் – backwaters
தடம் – long
தாள் – leg
மடம் – young
நாரை – stork / egret

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