Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Kainnilai”

Kainnilai – 50

O’ long and cool seashore! I won’t tell you;
Ibis nesting on closed palm fronds, I won’t tell it too;
Long legged stork roaming in backwaters!
you were there when he vowed;  listen.

நெடுங் கடல் தண் சேர்ப்ப! நின்னோடு உரையேன்;
ஒடுங்கு மடல் பெண்ணை அன்றிற்கும் சொல்லேன்;
கடுஞ் சூளின் தான் கண்டு, கானலுள் மேயும்
தடந் தாள் மட நாராய்! கேள்.

They have met discreetly, fallen in love and became physically intimate. He promised the earth to her and said he will come back soon. But he hasn’t. So she tells the Seashore, “I won’t tell my suffering to you. Because you weren’t witness to our rendezvous. Nor to the Ibis bird that nests on closed fronds in palm trees. But the egret in backwaters, you were there when he vowed to come back soon. You were the sole witness. I will tell you of my grief.”


Ibis nesting on Palm Tree – pixabay.com


Stork in backwaters – wikimedia

தண் – Cool
சேர்ப்பு – Seashore / wharf
ஒடுங்குதல் – close inwards
மடல் – frond
பெண்ணை – palm
அன்றில் – Ibis / heron
சூள் – promise
கானல் – backwaters
தடம் – long
தாள் – leg
மடம் – young
நாரை – stork / egret

Kainnilai – 48

In his town cranes hunt for fish in paddy fields;
Let him embrace voluptuous sandal painted breasts,
and not leftovers like this old woman’s saggy breasts;
Oh bard with a fine harp! – he isn’t welcome here.

கொக்கு ஆர் வள வயல் ஊரன் குளிர் சாந்தம்
மிக்க வன முலை புல்லான், பொலிவு உடைத்தா;-
தக்க யாழ்ப் பாண!-தளர் முலையாய் மூத்து அமைந்தார்
உத்தரம் வேண்டா; வரல்.

He has been at the courtesan’s house and now wants to go back home. So he sends his bard as an advance scout to cool his wife down. She isn’t ready. She retorts to the bard “He is from the town where Cranes hunt for fish in inundated paddy fields. Like that he keeps searching for fresh fish. Let him go and embrace those voluptous sandal paste painted breasts of the courtesan. Let him not come for this old woman’s saggy breasts like reaching out for leftovers. Ask him not to come here.”

Kainnilai is one of the 18 anthologies* in post Sangam era. It originally had 60 poems, 12 each for the five landscapes of Tamil poetry. Written by Pullangadanaar in post Sangam era (between 2nd and 8th Century AD), only 45 verses are extant now. It was first published from Palm leaf manuscripts in 1931 by Anantha Rama Iyer. The commentary in Tamilvu.org site is by Sangu Pulavar, based on the source material from 1931 edition.

  • There is some debate about whether Kainnilai or Innilai (another collection of poems) is the 18th anthology.

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