Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the month “March, 2019”

Thirukkural – 1273

Like the thread that gleams through gems strung,
something gleams in this girl’s beauty, unsung.

மணியுள் திகழ்தரும் நூல்போல், மடந்தை
அணியுள் திகழ்வது ஒன்று உண்டு.

The thread through which the gems are strung is not directly visible to the eye, but it shines through the light of the gems. Similarly there is something that radiates through this girls beauty (which cannot be explained).

‘Unsung’ is not explicit in the original Kural. I have made it explicit in the translation.

Devaneya Paavaanar interprets அணி – post coital glow. That adds an extra layer to the Kural.

மணி – gem / necklace of gems strung together
திகழ் – shine / glimmer
மடந்தை – girl
அணி – beauty
ஒன்று உண்டு  – Something there

A profile in The Hindu Business Line

Shriya Mohan of The Hindu Business Line interviewed me and wrote a profile, as part of their poetry special edition. Here it is. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/cover/tamizh-on-my-timeline/article26542548.ece

Naaladiyaar – 223

Even if a friend causes us much grief,
To put up with them is worth it; My Lord!
Bees buzz around bright flowers in your country’s tall peaks;
Patience of one saves friendship of two.

இறப்பவே தீய செயினும், தன் நட்டார்
பொறுத்தல் தகுவது ஒன்று அன்றோ?-நிறக் கோங்கு
உருவ வண்டு ஆர்க்கும் உயர் வரை நாட!-
ஒருவர் பொறை இருவர் நட்பு.

This verse is under the chapter நட்பிற் பிழைபொறுத்தல் – Bearing with faults in friendship. The poet says “One whom we have chosen as friend, even if they causes us much grief, it is worth to put up with them. If one person is patient, he saves the friendship between the two.”

The third  line is interesting. It is a description of the ruler’s country. It also means ‘though the flowers are at a height, bees go to them and buzz around. Similarly though a friend is at fault, we have to bear with them for the sake of friendship’.

இறப்பு – much / lot
தீய – grief
நட்டார் – நட்பு உடையவர் – friend
தகுவது – worth
நிறக் கோங்கு – colourful flowers of kOngu tree (Red cotton tree)
உருவ வண்டு – beautiful bee
ஆர் – noise (buzz)
உயர் வரை – tall peaks
பொறை – Patience

Thiruvasagam – 10.2

If the Lord of the celestials had not in his compassion conquered me, 
What would have I been? What would my heart or knowledge be?
Who would’ve known me?
The Ruler of the world, who accepts alms in a broken skull – 
Go to his honeyed lotus like feet and hum his praise, O’ Royal Bee!

நானார்என் உள்ளமார் ஞானங்க ளார்என்னை யாரறிவார்
வானோர் பிரான்என்னை ஆண்டிலனேல் மதிமயங்கி
ஊனார் உடைதலையில் உண்பலிதேர் அம்பலவன்
தேனார் கமலமே சென்றூதாய் கோத்தும்பீ.

திருக்கோத்தும்பி  – ThirukkOthumbi is a set of 20 verses in Thiruvasagam, where Manickavasagar sings the praise of Lord Shiva in Chidambaram. In these verses he hails Lord Shiva and asks the Royal Bee to hum around the Lord.

In this verse he says “If Shiva, Lord of the celestials, had not taken pity on me and conquered my soul, what would I have been? What would my heart or knowledge be? Nothing. Who would have known me? No one. It is because of Lord Shiva I am all that I am. He is the Ruler of the world. He uses a broken human skull as begging bowl and accepts alms in it to eat.  O’ Royal bee, go to his feet and hum his praise like you hum around honeyed lotus flowers”

வானோர் பிரான் – Lord of the Celestials
ஆண்டிலனேல் – if he hadn’t conquered
மதிமயங்கி- Yield (his) head – become compassionate
ஊனார் உடைதலை – Broken skull with flesh sticking
உண்பலிதேர் – Food + Alms + Accept
அம்பலவன் – Ruler of the World
தேனார் கமலம் – honeyed Lotus
கோத்தும்பி – Royal Bee

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