Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

MalaiPadu Kadaam – lines 340-344

Cracking noise as sugar cane nodes are broken
And crushed in crushers covered by clouds of smoke,
Work song of women husking millet grains,
Drums sounded by farmers guarding Yam and Turmeric
To chase away foraging wild boars,
All these sounds echo in the mountains


மழை கண்டன்ன ஆலைதொறும், ஞெரேரெனக்
கழை கண் உடைக்கும் கரும்பின் ஏத்தமும்;
தினை குறு மகளிர் இசை படு வள்ளையும்,
சேம்பும் மஞ்சளும் ஓம்பினர் காப்போர்
பன்றிப் பறையும்; குன்றகச் சிலம்பும்;

Malaipadu Kadaam is a 583 line long poem, one of the ten long poems (பத்துப் பாட்டு) in Sangam canon. Written by Perunkunrur Perunkaucikanar, it is sung in praise of the hill country ruled by King Nannan. Tamil scholar Kamil Zvelebil dates it to 210 CE. This poem is known for its vivid imagery of hill country, thought to be current day Javadhu hills in northern Tamil Nadu.

Lines 290-350 list the various sounds heard in the hills. In the above lines the following sounds are described. Cane crushing units are engulfed in smoke from the crushers. These look like clouds hovering around the crushers. In these units cracking noise of sugar cane nodes breaking at a fast pace is heard. Near by women are husking millet grains. To overcome the tedium, they sing rhythmic songs (வள்ளைப் பாட்டு). Farmers guarding yam and turmeric in their fields sound drums to scare away wild boars that forage these root vegetables. All these sounds mingle together and echo in the mountains.

மழை – cloud
ஆலை – factory / sugar cane crushing units
ஞெரேர் – sound
கழை – sugar cane
கண் – கணு – node (of sugar cane)
ஏத்தம் – sound of pouring liquid
தினை – millet
குறு – pound / husk
வள்ளை – A type of rhythmic work song
சேம்பு – Yam
மஞ்சள் – Turmeric
ஓம்பினர் – those who nourish / farmers
காப்போர் – those who guard
பன்றி – (wild) boar
பறை – drum
குன்று – hill / mountain
சிலம்பு – Echo

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