Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Thirukkural – 605

Procrastination, forgetfulness, laziness and sleep – these four
are vessel willingly boarded by those who court ruin.

நெடுநீர் மறவி மடிதுயில் நான்கும்
கெடுநீரார் காமக் கலன்.

Thiruvalluvar saying it bluntly. He uses ‘கலன்’ – in singular for boat, though he lists four characteristics earlier. In Tamil it doesn’t sound odd, but in English it is mismatched. While translating it in English, I had to make a choice whether to use plural ‘are vessels’ or to introduce another verb like other translators have done ‘these four shape the ship’. Finally I decided to go with the original singular itself.

நெடுநீர் – procrastination
மறவி – மறதி – forgetfulness
மடி – laziness
துயில் – sleep
கெடுநீர் – ruin
காமம் – desire
கலன் – boat / vessel

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