Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Ainkurunooru”

Ainkuru Nooru – 172

The woman with shiny bangles seized my heart!
Like unceasing clamorous waves
of Thondi’s* cool shores where bees hum,
I cannot sleep even at night!

* Thondi – Major port of Chera kings, near modern day Kozhikode, Kerala.

ஒண் தொடி அரிவை கொண்டனள், நெஞ்சே!
வண்டு இமிர் பனித் துறைத் தொண்டி ஆங்கண்
உரவுக் கடல் ஒலித் திரை போல,
இரவினானும் துயில் அறியேனே!

His friend asks him why he is not sleeping. He says the girl I saw in the sea shore, wearing shining bangles, has taken away my heart. Like the unceasing noisy waves of Thondi shore, where bees buzz around, I too am not able to sleep even at night.

The rolling waves never sleep. He likens himself to those waves. Bees buzz around as they circle lily flowers in backwaters. Similarly his heart is roaming around the backwaters after the girl he saw there.

ஒண் – ஒண்மை – shining, bright
தொடி – bracelet / bangle
அரிவை – woman
இமிர் – hum
உரவு – to be in constant motion
திரை – wave
துயில் – sleep

Ainkurunooru – 185

The lass with fine bangles shaped by file* –
her teeth are like shining pearls in Korkai harbour
where lily petals sway;
her mouth is of coral hue;
her word is sweet like a harp’s twang.

* – polishing file; probably shell bangles carved with a file

அலங்குஇதழ் நெய்தல் கொற்கை முன்துறை
இலங்கு முத்து உறைக்கும் எயிறு கெழு துவர் வாய்,
அரம் போழ் அவ் வளைக் குறுமகள்
நரம்பு ஆர்த்தன்ன தீம் கிளவியளே.

He is in the beach looking at a group of girls. One of the girls comes and asks him who is his lover among the group. He describes her. She is the one wearing bangles shaped by a polishing file. Her teeth are like shining pearls fished in Korkai’s (an important harbor in Pandiya Kingdom, situated in present day South Tamil Nadu) anchorage, where lily petals sway gently. Her mouth is coral red in colour. Her words are sweet like the music emanating when strings of a harp are plucked.

அலங்கு – sway
நெய்தல் – Lily flower
முன் துறை – lightening anchorage where load is lightened before the vessel goes to berth
இலங்கு – shine
உறைக்கும் – similar
எயிறு – teeth
கெழு – color
துவர் – coral
அரம் – file
போழ் – cut (I have used ‘shaped’)
குறுமகள் – young girl – lass
நரம்பு – string of a harp (யாழ்)
ஆர் – sound (I’ve used ‘twang’)
தீம் – sweet
கிளவி – word

Ainkurunooru – 375

“This is my doll’s favorite doll
this is my parrot’s favorite parrot
this is my flower’s favorite flower”
Did my lily eyed daughter
leave these to remind me
of her twinkling sight and fine forehead,
and grieve every time I see them.

இது என் பாவைக்கு இனிய நன் பாவை
இது என் பைம் கிளி எடுத்த பைம் கிளி
இது என் பூவைக்கு இனிய சொல் பூவை என்று
அலமரு நோக்கின் நலம் வரு சுடர் நுதல்
காண்-தொறும் காண்-தொறும் கலங்க
நீங்கினளோ என் பூ கணோளே.

She has eloped with her lover. Her mother sends people to search for her. They come back and say she has left town. This is her mother’s lament. “This is my doll like daughter’s favorite doll. This is my parrot like daughter’s favorite parrot. This is my flower like daughter’s favorite flower. She has left her favorite play things, pets and flowers and gone away with him. Every time I look at them they remind me of her and make me grieve more.”

The Tamil version says பூ கணோளே – flower like eyes. I have used ‘Lily eyed’ since eyes are equated to lily flowers (நெய்தல்/ஆம்பல்) in Tamil literature often.

As always, if you can read Tamil, read it out loud. Especially the cadence of the last two lines. I can’t do justice to it.

Ainkurunooru – 203

May you live long my dear, listen! Sweeter than
milk mixed with honey from our gardens
is the muddled water leftover by deer
in his country’s foliage covered puddles.

அன்னாய், வாழி! வேண்டு, அன்னை! நம் படப்பைத்
தேன் மயங்கு பாலினும் இனிய அவர் நாட்டு
உவலைக் கூவல் கீழ
மான் உண்டு எஞ்சிய கலிழி நீரே.

She has come back after meeting her lover who lives in hill country. Her friend asks “Water quality is bad in his country. How did you manage?” She replies “The muddled water in the foliage covered puddles there was sweeter than milk sweetened with honey”. Her love for him makes her over look these minor hiccups. Love is not only blind, but also numbs the tastebuds :-).

Ainkurunooru – 309

Her friend says:

O’ man from the hills! You wish to cross
hot barren lands in this summer month, fine;
The wealth you earn by going across,
is it sweeter than seeing
your loving wife’s first born son smile?

தோழி கூற்று:

வேனில் திங்கள் வெஞ் சுரம் இறந்து
செலவு அயர்ந்தனையால் நீயே; நன்றும்
நின் நயந்து உறைவி கடுஞ் சூல் சிறுவன்
முறுவல் காண்டலின், இனிதோ
இறு வரை நாட! நீ இறந்து செய் பொருளே?

The arid landscape poems (பாலைத் திணை)  in Sangam literature talk about separation. In this poem the man from the hills wants to go across the arid lands in summer to earn his wealth. His wife doesn’t want him to leave. So she sends her friend to dissuade him. The friend asks him, “All the wealth you earn by going across, is it more precious than seeing the smile of your first born son?”

It is not clear from the poem or its commentary whether she is still pregnant or has already given birth. I lean towards seeing it as a poem written from the point of a pregnant woman. She wants him to be near her when she births his first son.

Ainkurunooru – 293

With fingers like a fine bunch of fragrant
flame lilies in hills, you close my eyes!
Supple shouldered woman, with pomp of a peacock,
my sweet companion in bed!
Is there any one else in my heart other than you?

சிலம்பு கமழ் காந்தள் நறுங் குலை அன்ன
நலம் பெறு கையின் என் கண் புதைத்தோயே!
பாயல் இன் துணை ஆகிய பணைத் தோள்
தோகை மாட்சிய மடந்தை!
நீ அலது உளரோ என் நெஞ்சு அமர்ந்தோரே?

A delightful love poem by Kapilar, from Ainkurunooru (500 short poems). He is waiting for her. She comes behind him and closes his eyes, to see if he guesses correctly or says some one else’s name. He lavishes praise on her – flame lily like fingers, bamboo like supple shoulders, with pomp of a peacock – and says “Will I utter any other name? You are the only one in my heart”.

For sake of readability I have used ‘supple shoulder’ instead of ‘bamboo shoulder’ as in original.

Ainkurunooru – 418

Are you the celestial nymph I saw
in forests drenched by incessant rains
that quenched a skylark’s thirst,
oh,fine bosomed girl embracing me?

வானம் பாடி வறங்களைந் தானா
தழிதுளி தலைஇய புறவிற் காண்வர
வானர மகளோ நீயே
மாண்முலை யடைய முயங்கி யோயே.

He’s rushing back home to meet her during monsoon. On the way he passes through forests that were drenched by rain and imagines that he sees her. After reaching home, when she embraces him he asks her “Are you a celestial nymph whom I saw in the forest drenched by incessant rains?”

Sky lark sings when thirsty and rain pours. Her arrival is like that to his parched love.

வானம்பாடி – Skylark
வறம் – poverty (thirst)
களை – remove (quench)
புறம் – forest
ஆனாது – non stop
அழிதுளி – excess rains
தலைஇய – pour
வான் – celestial
மாண் முலை – glorious bosom
முயங்குதல் – embrace

Ainkurunooru – 41

Heartless crocodile eats its own kid
In his town’s Water Lilly pond, it’s said;
Like that, he makes paleness spread
in the body of those who trusted his word.

தன் பார்ப்புத் தின்னும் அன்பு இல் முதலையொடு
வெண் பூம் பொய்கைத்து, அவன் ஊர்’ என்ப; அதனால்
தன் சொல் உணர்ந்தோர் மேனி
பொன் போல் செய்யும் ஊர்கிழவோனே.

Poem 41 from Ainkurunooru. She’s sulking because he has gone to the courtesan’s house and hasn’t returned home for long. She says to his friends “like the cruel crocodile that eats its own offspring, he is heartless. I trusted his word but he makes me suffer. He gave birth to our relationship, now he is killing it himself.” Due to love sickness, golden paleness spreads across her body.

Ainkurunooru – 81

What the courtesan said:

In your town’s flower festooned pond
a stork breaks tortoise’s shell to eat its pale meat,
and the remains are consumed by drummers!
You say that you love me; If
your wife hears this, she’ll grieve a lot.

குருகு உடைத்து உண்ட வெள் அகட்டு யாமை
அரிப்பறை வினைஞர் அல்குமிசைக் கூட்டும்,
மலர் அணி வாயில் பொய்கை, ஊர! நீ
என்னை ‘நயந்தனென்’ என்றி; நின்
மனையோள் கேட்கின், வருந்துவள் பெரிதே.

Poem 81 from Ainkurunooru. This is said by the Courtesan to him. The courtesan has heard that his wife spoke ill of her. So when he comes to meet her, she says “Your wife will feel aggrieved if you are with me, so go away”. The interesting bit is the seemingly unrelated description of his town. “Like the drummers who eat the remains of what the stork has eaten, your wife gets to embrace you only after I have had my fill” is the courtesan’s way of putting down his wife.

Ainkurunooru – 415

This, my girl, is the time when we loved;
That, my  girl is the forest where we loved;
Blissful is youth, when spent
merrily in the arms of one’s lover.

இதுவே, மடந்தை! நாம் மேவிய பொழுதே;
உதுவே, மடந்தை! நாம் உள்ளிய புறவே;
இனிது உடன் கழிக்கின், இளமை
இனிதால் அம்ம, இனியவர்ப் புணர்வே!

Poem 415 from Ainkurunooru. This is a Mullai Thinai  (forest & pastoral landscape) poem. Evening time and forest are the leitmotif of these poems. Poems 411-420 are about him coming back earlier than promised and wooing her back again with memories of past.

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