Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years


I am Chenthil Nathan, blogging at http://chenthil.blogspot.com for past thirteen years. I fancy myself as a bi-linguist.

Tamil has a rich poetic tradition dating back to 3rd Century BC. Old Tamil poetry follows strict rules laid out in TholKappiyam, the oldest extant grammar treatise in Tamil. You can read more about Tamil literary tradition here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_literature

This blog has my translations of Old Tamil Poetry. I post tweets at http://twitter.com/oldtamilpoetry and use this site as a repository.

There are many translations and attempts to translate these works in Tamil. Currently Vaidehi Herbert at http://learnsangamtamil.com/ is translating the entire works. http://twitter.com/kurunthokai is translating Kurunthokai with illustratons. Palaniappan Vairam at http://karkanirka.org blog is translating Sangam and post Sangam tamil poetry on and off.

I plan to translate the poems that catch my fancy. There is no structured effort. I use the original text from Tamil Virtual Academy website http://tamilvu.org/library/libindex.htm . Translations are based on various commentaries published across centuries.

20 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi – There is a tamil poem, that begins like this, “Sunai vaai siru neerai aidhaadhenru enni”. Basically this poem refers to the 2 deers that go to drink water in a pool, where there is not enough water left for both, one of the deers pretends to drink water, but doesn’t, so that the other deer can drink it. I forget the entire text of this poem, can you please post the entire poem if you know it.


  2. Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post. Thanks so much and let keep on sharing your stuffs.Tamil News


  3. Can I have your email id


  4. chennai on said:

    Dear Chenthil, I want to get in touch with you reg. your translations. Could you please send me your email ID to: thesrajesh@gmail.com. Thanks. Rajesh, Chennai


  5. how to subscribe by email?


  6. Radhika on said:

    Sir please give me the deep meaning of the following lines and who is the poet who wrote this. Chattre oru thuvaiyalarai Kaayamittu gammeneve keerai kadai Vettral Ethenum varatthuvai Kuttramillai


    • “சற்றே துவையல் அரை; தம்பி ஒரு பச்சடி வை,
      வற்றல்ஏ தேனும் வறுத்துவை – குற்றம்இலை
      காயமிட்டுக் கீரைகடை; கம்மென வேமிளகுக்
      காயரைத்து வைப்பாய் கறி.”

      இந்த வெண்பா இயற்றியவர் துறைமங்கலம் சிவப்பிரகாச சுவாமிகள் என்று கூறப்படுகிறது. அவரது காலம் 18ஆம் நூற்றாண்டு.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. John Smith on said:

    Thank you so much for all your efforts


  8. Ajay Kumar on said:

    When I was in high school, I read a poem and it used to go like this.. ‘Imbarvaan ellai raamanaiye paadi en konarnthaai paanaa endraal paani. vambathaam kalabam endren, poosum endraal. maathangam endren, naam vaalnthom endraal. pambudeer velam endren, thinnum endraal, pagadenren ulum endraal’… and end as ‘kaimmaa endren, summaa kalanginaale’. It’s about siledai. Any idea?


    • Ajay Kumar on said:

      pambudeer velam endren.. i made a typo.


    • ’இம்பர்வான் எல்லை இராமனையே பாடி
      என்கொணர்ந்தாய் பாணா?’ என்றாள் பாணி,
      ’வம்பதாம் களபம்’ என்றேன், ‘பூசும்’ என்றாள்.
      ‘மாதங்கம்’ என்றேன், ‘யாம் வாழ்ந்தேம்’ என்றாள்.
      ’பம்பு சீர் வேழம்’ என்றேன். ‘தின்னும்’ என்றாள்.
      ‘பகடு’ என்றேன், ‘உழும்’ என்றாள், பழனம் தன்னை
      ‘கம்ப மா’ என்றேன், ‘நல் களியாம்’ என்றாள்.
      ‘கைம்மா’ என்றேன், சும்மா கலங்கினாளே! (வீரராகவ முதலியார், தனிப்பாடல்)


  9. 2dancingfeet on said:

    What a great resource this is! Thank you Sir, for what you do.
    Could you please translate Thirunavukkarasar’s thevaram : Munnam avarudaiya namam? I have seen translations but nothing seems to do justice to the poetry. I would appreciate your inputs!
    many thanks!


  10. Navira on said:

    Hello Shri Senthil Nathan,

    I found this site and wanted to appreciate your work. This is commendable effort. நானும் தமிழ் ஆர்வலர். Please respond to my email.



  11. Vanbakkam Vijayaraghavan on said:

    Old Tamil refers to written Tamil upto 5/6the Centuries Common Era. If you want to stick to Old tamil, stick to the period till 5/6th C


  12. Prakash on said:

    Wonderful effort Chenthil. Great to know that there are people like you who make the language flourish inspite of the numerous challenges faced by the traditional old languages.

    Liked by 1 person

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