Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Nalvazhi”

Nalvazhi 34

Even if one is illiterate, as long as he is wealthy,
Every one will welcome and attend to him;
A pauper is not wanted even by his wife,
Nor by the mother who birthed him;
His words go unheard.

கல்லானே யானாலுங் கைப்பொருளொன் றுண்டாயின்
எல்லாருஞ் சென்றங்கு எதிர்கொள்வர்-இல்லானை
இல்லாளும் வேண்டாள்மற்று ஈன்றெடுத்த தாய்வேணடாள்
செல்லாது அவன்வாயிற் சொல்.

This poem by Avvaiyar (the 3rd, of 12th Century AD) talks about how the world respects the wealthy and discards the pauper. A wealthy man even if he is illiterate, is feted upon by everyone. On the other hand one who doesn’t have money us not wanted even by his wife. Even the mother who birthed him doesn’t want him. Nobody listens to his words and he is treated as useless.

All the words in this poem are still in use in Tamil. இல்லானை இல்லாளும் வேண்டாள் – Even his wife doesn’t want a pauper is a commonly used phrase in Tamil discourse. The wordplay in Tamil doesn’t translate into English.

கல்லான் – illiterate
கைப்பொருள் – wealth (at hand)
இல்லான் – one who doesn’t have / pauper
இல்லாள் – wife
ஈன்று எடுத்த – one who gave birth
செல்லாது – of no use

NalVazhi – 11

If I ask you to give up a day’s food, you won’t;
if I ask you to eat two days’ food, you won’t;
never will you understand my torment;
it’s hard to live with you, my dreadful stomach.

ஒருநாள் உணவை ஒழியென்றால் ஒழியாய்
இருநாளுக்கு ஏலென்றால் ஏலாய்-ஒருநாளும்
என்னோ வறியாய் இடும்பைகூர் என்வயிறே
உன்னோடு வாழ்தல் அரிது.

This poem by Avvaiyar (the 3rd, of 12th Century AD) talks about the unforgiving nature of hunger. “If no food is available, you won’t give it up for a day. When excess food is available and I ask you to eat two days worth of food, you again will not. You will never understand my struggles to feed you. It is hard to live with you, my dreaded stomach”


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