Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Naaladiyaar – 21

Even those who were perched atop an elephant,
with their heads protected by a parasol
Like the moon that appears on a mountain top,
Are scorned as ‘They were laid down on the ground’;
No one in this world ever escapes this fate.

மலைமிசைத் தோன்றும் மதியம்போல் யானைத்
தலைமிசைக் கொண்ட குடையர் – நிலமிசைத்
துஞ்சினார் என்றெடுத்துத் தூற்றப்பட்ட டாரல்லால்
எஞ்சினார் இவ்வுலகத் தில்.

This Naaladiyaar poem is about impermanence of life. Even the rulers of this world, who were perched on top of an elephant with their heads covered by their royal parasols (that look like white moon appearing on top of a mountain) are laid down on the ground once they are dead. The world will scorn them as such. No one in this world escapes this fate. So do good while you are alive.

Mountain is the simile for Elephant and the Moon for Royal Parasol/ Canopy.

மலை – mountain
மிசை – top
மதி – Moon
குடையர் – Ones with a Parasol
நிலம் – ground
துஞ்சினார் – slept / laid down
தூற்றப் பட்டார் – scorned / talked about derisively
எஞ்சினார் – those who remain / escaped this fate
இல் – none

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