Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Thirukkural – 1041

What’s more miserable than poverty, if you ask,
poverty alone is more miserable than poverty.

‘இன்மையின் இன்னாதது யாது?’ எனின், இன்மையின்
இன்மையே இன்னாதது.

There is nothing more miserable than poverty. If you ask what is more miserable, then the answer is only poverty is more miserable than poverty.

Tamil classical poetry follows strict rules of meter. Hence words are joined together to adhere to the rules. To understand the verse, one has to split them and understand it. For example the unsplit versionof the above verse is

இன்மையி னின்னாத தியாதெனி னின்மையின்
இன்மையே யின்னா தது.

As you can see it has four words in the first line and three in the second line, the way you were taught in school. After a lot of thought, I stick to split version of the verse, to make it easy for regular Tamil readers to understand. It is a compromise, it makes the verse lose its cadence; yes, but I don’t want to scare people off immediately.

இன்மையின் – than poverty
இன்னாதது – miserable
இன்மையே – only poverty / poverty alone

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2 thoughts on “Thirukkural – 1041

  1. what do you mean by poverty alone? Does it mean loneliness? I mean being poor and lonely? That’s worse than poverty itself?


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