Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Pattinap Palai – 126-132

Like the monsoon season
When water scooped up by the clouds
Pours down the mountain
And water from the mountain
Flows back to the sea,
Countless variety of goods
In limitless quantities
Are offloaded from sea to land
And loaded from land to sea..

வான் முகந்த நீர் மலைப் பொழியவும்,
மலைப் பொழிந்த நீர் கடல் பரப்பவும்,
மாரி பெய்யும் பருவம் போல
நீரினின்றும் நிலத்து ஏற்றவும்,
நிலத்தினின்று நீர்ப் பரப்பவும்,
அளந்து அறியாப் பல பண்டம்
வரம்பு அறியாமை வந்து ஈண்டி,

These lines are from Pattinap Palai, a long poem written in praise of Chola King Karikala Cholan, generally dated to the beginning of Common Era. Pattinap Palai is one of the ten long poems (பத்துப்பாட்டு) that are part of Sangam literature.

These lines talk about the flourishing trade and wealth of Karikala’s kingdom. Water cycle is the simile used for import and export of goods. Water from sea evaporates, rises up as clouds and pours as rain down the mountain during rainy season. Rain pouring down the mountains runs back as river to the sea and completes the cycle. Similarly in Karikala’s customs house, goods from the ships offloaded to land (import) and goods from land to be loaded on ships are gathered in countless quantities under the hawk eye of the customs officials.

If you can read Tamil, you will realize that these lines written 2000 years ago are as fresh as those written yesterday. All the words used then are still in use now. I chose these lines to show the continuity of Tamil, the biggest strength of our language.

வான் – cloud
முகந்த – scooped
மாரி பெய்யும் பருவம் – rain pouring season / monsoon
பண்டம் – goods
வரம்பு – limit
ஈண்டி – gathered

Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: