Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Ainkurunooru”

Ainkurunooru – 238

Even if long horned sturdy ram has deserted it,
short haired ewe still stays back with desire
near the roaring waterfalls in your hills, My lord!
Only when you arrive here,
does her haleness appear too.

வார் கோட்டு வயத் தகர் வாராது மாறினும்,
குரு மயிர்ப் புருவை நசையின் அல்கும்
மாஅல் அருவித் தண் பெருஞ் சிலம்ப!
நீ இவண் வரூஉம்காலை,
மேவரும் மாதோ, இவள் நலனே தெய்யோ!

Her friend tells him how much his lady misses him. She says, “Whenever you come, you find her cheerful and healthy. Do you know that her haleness and cheerfulness makes is presence felt, only when you are here? When you are not here, she weakens and withers away. In your hill country, even after a long horned sturdy goat has deserted it, the female goat still roams around the waterfalls expecting the male to come back. Like that she holds herself together waiting for you. Better marry her soon”

வார் – long
கோடு – horn
வயம் – strong
தகர் – male goat / ram
குரு மயிர் – short hair
புருவை – female goat / ewe
நசை – desire
அல்கும் – stays
மாஅல் அருவி – huge waterfalls
சிலம்ப – சிலம்பு நாட – lord of hill country
இவண் – here
மேவரும் – appear
நலன் – நலம் – healthiness / haleness


Ainkurunooru – 84

She’ll get tight-lipped and angry just on hearing it,
What’ll happen if she sees with her own eyes –
Your whoring chest that many a girl has relished,
like the chilly river front in the month of Thai
where fragrant flower plaited girls revel in.

செவியின் கேட்பினும் சொல் இறந்து வெகுள்வோள்,
கண்ணின் காணின், என் ஆகுவள்கொல்
நறு வீ ஐம்பால் மகளிர் ஆடும்
தைஇத் தண் கயம் போல,
பலர் படிந்து உண்ணும் நின் பரத்தை மார்பே?

He comes back home after spending time with his mistress. Her friend refuses to let him inside the house saying she will be angry if she sees him. Even hearing that he is with his mistress makes her angry and speech less. What will happen if she sees with her own eyes evidence of his cheating. Petals cling to his chest as evidence. Her friend disparagingly calls it ‘whoring chest’. It was customary during the month of Thai (Jan/Feb) for girls to go and bathe early morning in the chilly waters of the river front. So the river front will be strewn with flowers from their plaited hair. Like that his chest has petals from the tresses of many a girl who has relished it.

Is is thought that this custom of தை நீராடல் (Thai Neeraadal) later morphed into பாவை நோன்பு (Paavai Nonbu).

செவியின் – ear
கேட்பினும் – கேட்டாலே – just on hearing
சொல் இறந்து – word less
வெகுள்வோள் – வெகுளி கொள்வோள் – she who gets angry
நறு – fragrant
வீ – flower
ஐம்பால் – plaited hair
ஆடும் – revel in
தைஇ – Month of Thai (Jan/Feb)
தண் கயம் – cool water front
படிந்து உண்ணும் – settle and relish
பரத்தை – courtesan

Ainkurunooru – 363

O’ girl, Sister of murderous hunters clad in red
and carrying wooden bow and arrows!
You think of it as glow of your bosom;
my tormented heart thinks of it as torment.

சிலை வில் பகழிச் செந் துவர் ஆடைக்
கொலை வில் எயினர் தங்கை! நின் முலைய
சுணங்கு என நினைதி நீயே;
அணங்கு என நினையும், என் அணங்குறு நெஞ்சே.

After their love making he praises the girl. “Your brothers are murderous hunters wearing red colour attire and carrying bow and arrows made of wood. You are their sister. You look at the rosiness in your breasts and think it is glowing. But my heart tormented by you looks upon them as the cause of its torment.”

The word play is in சுணங்கு (glow / rosiness) – அணங்கு (grief / torment).

சிலை வில் – சிலை மரத்தால் செய்யப்பட்ட வில் – wooden bow
பகழி – arrow
செந்துவர் ஆடை – red coloured dress
கொலைவில் – murderous
எயினர் – Hunters
சுணங்கு – Rosiness / glow
அணங்கு – Torment

Ainkurunooru – 287

In your country, parrot in millet field fears
the short legged goat that grazes in tall hills!
You are adept in trickery;
you are inept too, as you act unfairly.

நெடுவரை மிசையது குறுங்கால் வருடை
தினைபாய் கிள்ளை வெரூஉ நாட
வல்லை மன்ற பொய்த்தல்
வல்லாய் மன்றநீ யல்லது செயலே.

He has promised to come and ask her dad for her hand. But hasn’t turned up as promised. Her friend chides him saying “You are an expert in deceiving us. You lied to us that you will come home and ask her father for her hand. But because you don’t do the right thing, you are “. The first two lines are interesting. The goats aren’t bothered about the parrots and go about their grazing. But the parrot is afraid of the goat unnecessarily. Her friend implies that he is afraid of her relatives unnecessarily and that’s why he has not turned up as promised.

நெடு வரை – tall hills
குறுங்கால் – short legged
வருடை – (mountain) goat
தினை – millet
கிள்ளை – parrot
வெரூ – fear
வல்லை – able / adept
பொய்த்தல் – lie / trickery
வல்லாய் – not able /inept

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.

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