Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the month “August, 2019”

Thirukkural – 629

One who doesn’t delight in times of delight
Isn’t distressed in times of distress.

இன்பத்துள் இன்பம் விழையாதான், துன்பத்துள்
துன்பம் உறுதல் இலன்.

One who doesn’t get overjoyed and take joy to heart in times of joyousness, will not take the sorrow to heart too in times of suffering. He knows that these are but illusionary and he will be balanced at all times. Valluvar repeats the words twice in the first line and second. I have tried to bring the same in translation too, using them as both verb and noun.

While reading this Kural, I was reminded of the famous lines of Rudyard Kipling from the poem ‘If’, are written on the wall of the players’ entrance to the Centre Court at Wimbledon.

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;”

இன்பம் – joy / delight
விழையாதான் – one who doesn’t covet
துன்பம் – grief / distress
உறுதல் – feel

Kurunthokai – 163

Like herds of small headed white goats
that roam in Poozhi country,
the grove fringed water front
is filled with fish hunting egrets;
At this water front, even at midnight,
-when white screw-pine flower shrubs are swayed by waves-
Your plaintive cry is still heard;
Oh’ Sea! For whom do you pine and suffer?

யார் அணங்குற்றனை-கடலே! பூழியர்
சிறு தலை வெள்ளைத் தோடு பரந்தன்ன
மீன் ஆர் குருகின் கானல்அம் பெருந்துறை.
வெள் வீத் தாழை திரை அலை
நள்ளென் கங்குலும் கேட்கும், நின் குரலே?

She is pining for him. She misses his love and passion, and is awake at midnight. Every one else is asleep. The roar of the sea is her only companion. She asks the sea “Your water front is overrun by white egrets hunting for fish. They look like the white goats found everywhere in Poozhi country. In this water front, where high tide brings the waves to sway white screw pine flower shrubs in shore, you are still awake and I can hear you plaintive cry. I am awake because I miss my lover and suffer on his behalf. On whose account to you suffer, Oh’ Sea?”

Poozhi Country is thought to be present day Kozhikode in Kerala coast. There is another Poozhi country in areas around Tirunelveli, but that is not close to the coast.

அணங்கு – suffer
பூழியர் – Poozhi country
சிறு தலை வெள்ளைத் தோடு – herd of small headed white goats
பரந்து – widespread
மீன் ஆர் குருகு – fish hunting egrets
கானல் – grove
பெருந்துறை – wide water front
வெள் வீத் தாழை – white screw pine flower shrubs
திரை – waves
அலை – அலைக்கின்ற – shake / sway
நள் – mid
கங்குல் – night

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