Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the month “June, 2019”

Thirukkural – 332

 

Accrual of riches is like crowds thronging theater halls;
It departs too the same way once screen falls.

கூத்தாட்டு அவைக்குழாத் தற்றே பெருஞ்செல்வம் 
போக்கும் அதுவிளிந் தற்று.

This Kural is under the chapter Impermanence. Great wealth accrues to a person like crowds thronging a theater hall. But the crowd is not permanent. It departs once the show is over. Similarly wealth doesn’t stay with one person forever.

கூத்து – drama / theater
அவை – hall
குழாம் – crowd
பெரும் செல்வம் – great wealth
போக்கு – goes away / departs
விளி – over / (screen falls)

Thirukkural – 1196

 

One sided love is misery; if matched evenly
On both sides, like kavadi*, it is blessed.

ஒருதலையான் இன்னாது, காமம்; காப் போல
இருதலையானும் இனிது.

*Kavadi – pole carried on shoulder by devotees with sacrificial offerings on both ends. (Hindi – Kanvar?)

He has gone away to earn wealth. She pines for him. She says “Only I pine for him. He doesn’t think about me. One sided love is nothing but misery. Love is blessed when it is matched evenly on both sides, like the kavadi”

இன்னாது – painful
கா – kavadi

 

 

Kambaramayanam – 5278

Ravana pleading his love to Sita in Asoka Vanam

Many todays have passed; many tomorrows have passed;
Yet this is the mercy you offer me;
Will you become one with me
Only after I pass away
Killed by the misery you cause me?
Tell me, O’ Woman whose reddened eyes cause me grief,
Swinging back and forth to your ear rings.

இன்று இறந்தன நாளை இறந்தன
என் திறம் தரும் தன்மை இதால்; எனைக்
கொன்று இறந்தபின் கூடுதியோ? குழை
சென்று இறங்கி மறம் தரு செங்கணாய்!

After Ravana has carried Sita away to Lanka, he has her imprisoned in Asoka Vanam. Hanuman is sent by Rama to find Sita. After reaching Lanka, Hanuman searches around and finally find Sita in Asoka Vanam. While he is there, Ravana comes to plead his love to Sita. That’s where this verse appears.

Ravana tells Sita, “I have waited for many days thinking today will be the day you will accept my love. I have waited for many days thinking hopefully tomorrow will be the day you will accept me. Yet you haven’t accepted my love. This is the mercy you have shown me. Will you unite with me only after you kill me by the pain caused by your refusal? You have been shedding tears thinking of Rama. Hence your eyes are reddened. Frightened on seeing me, those eyes swing back and forth all the way to your ear rings. This is causing me further grief.”

As you can see, Kamban uses sparse words to capture this emotion. I have had to elaborate in my translation to capture all that brevity.

இறந்தன – passed away / die
திறம் – mercy
கூடு – join / unite
குழை – ear ring
மறம் – pain
செங்கணாய் – red eyed woman

Thirukkural – 151

Like Earth that bears with those who dig her up,
To bear with the scornful is the best of virtue. 

அகழ்வாரைத் தாங்கும் நிலம் போல, தம்மை
இகழ்வார்ப் பொறுத்தல் தலை.

Though people dig earth up, yet earth carries them with patience. Similarly to bear with those who are scornful towards one is the topmost virtue. It is not easy though.

அகழ் – to dig / excavate
தாங்கும் – supports, carries / bear
நிலம் – earth
இகழ் – mock / scorn
பொறுத்தல் – bear

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