Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Thirukkural”

Thirukkural – 1120

Even pimpernels and soft feathers of a swan
Are thorny caltrops to this girl’s feet.

அனிச்சமு மன்னத்தின் றூவியும் மாத
ரடிக்கு நெருஞ்சிப் பழம்.

My girl’s feet are soft and tender. Even soft petals of a pimpernel flower or fine feathers of a swan are thorns to her feet.

அனிச்சம் – Pimpernel flower
அன்னம் – swan
தூவி – feather
அடி – feet
நெருஞ்சி – caltrop (thorn)

Thirukkural 1238

 

As I eased my embracing arms away from her,
The bangled girl’s forehead lost colour.

முயங்கிய கைகளை யூக்கப் பசந்தது
பைந்தொடிப் பேதை நுதல்.

He is reminiscing about his girl. Once when they were hugging tight, he eased his arms a bit so as not to crush her. Thinking he is about to leave, she is distressed and her forehead loses colour.

Thirukkural 667

 

Do not ridicule looking at one’s appearance – this world has people
Who are like the linchpin of a lofty chariot.

உருவு கண்டு எள்ளாமை வேண்டும்-உருள் பெருந் தேர்க்கு
அச்சு ஆணி அன்னார் உடைத்து.

We should not mock a person looking on their appearance. There are people in this world who play important roles but look very ordinary. Linchpin of a majestic chariot looks very small. But it is key to the movement of the chariot. So don’t ridicule any one for their appearance.

உருவு – form / appearance

எள்ளாமை – not ridicule

அச்சாணி – linchpin

அன்னார் – similar people

உடைத்து – (world) has

Thirukkural – 819

 

Friendship of those whose words and deeds differ
Is an agony even in one’s dream.

கனவினு மின்னாது மன்னோ வினைவேறு
சொல்வேறு பட்டார் தொடர்பு.

Friendship of people who say something and do something else is an agony, not only when one is awake but even when one is asleep.

கனவு – dream
இன்னா – grief / misery
தொடர்பு – connection / friendship

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Thirukkural – 1125

 

I’ll remember, if I forget; but I know not how to forget the virtues
Of this lass with a gleam and dare in her eyes.

உள்ளுவன் மன்யான் மறப்பின் மறப்பறியே
னொள்ளமர்க் கண்ணாள் குணம்.

He is going back after their tryst. Her worried friend asks him will you remember us once you go back to your town. He says “I will remember, if I forget her. But I do not know how to forget her charms. She, whose sharp eyes dazzle with a gleam”

உள்ளுதல் – to think of

மறப்பறியேன் – i don’t know how to forget
ஒள் அமர்க் கண்ணாள் – bright, battling eyed girl
குணம் – traits / virtues

Thirukkural – 1254

Unyielding reserve I had, I thought; My passion though,
breaks out and reveals itself.

நிறையுடையே னென்பேன்மன் யானோயென் காம
மறையிறந்து மன்று படும்.

She says that she was proud of her womanly reserve and was sure she could keep her feelings for him under control. But her passion doesn’t listen to her. Though she tried to keep it hidden, it broke out and revealed itself in public.

நிறை – Reserve
உடையேன் – I had
என்பேன் யான் – I said
காமம் – passion
மறை – hidden place
இறந்து – கடந்து – transgress / breaks
மன்று – assembly / public
படும் – (வெளிப்) படும் – reveals

Thirukkural – 620

They see even fate retreat –
those who strive hard resolutely.

ஊழையும் உப்பக்கம் காண்பர்-உலைவு இன்றித்
தாழாது உஞற்றுபவர்.

Those who put in their best efforts steadfastly, can even conquer their fate.

ஊழ் – destiny /fate
உப்பக்கம் – முதுகு – back
உலைவு – tremble / hesitant
உஞற்று – effort

Thirukkural – 752.

 

Have-nots are ridiculed by one and all;
Wealthy are heaped with praise by all.

இல்லாரை எல்லாரும் எள்ளுவர்; செல்வரை
எல்லாரும் செய்வர், சிறப்பு.

One’s wealth decides how he is looked upon by the world. Those who are wealthy are praised by everyone while those who are not well off are ridiculed by everyone.

எள்ளுதல் – ridicule
சிறப்பு – respect / praise

Thirukkural – 445

As governance depends on ministers acting as his eyes,
A ruler should surround himself with ministers wise.

சூழ்வார்கண் ணாக வொழுகலான் மன்னவன் 
சூழ்வாரைச் சூழ்ந்து கொளல்.

Governance of a country depends on the ministers who act as a Ruler’s eyes. They take information to him and advice him in people’s mood. So a ruler should surround himself with the wisest if ministers.

சூழ் – advice.

சூழ்வார் – advisor / minister.

Thirukkural – 338

Like a bird flying away discarding its eggshell
Is the relationship between body and soul.

குடம்பை தனித்து ஒழியப் புள் பறந்தற்றே –
உடம்பொடு உயிரிடை நட்பு

This Kural is under the chapter நிலையாமை – Impermanence. Valluvar equates a soul like a bird that discards its shell and flies away. This physical body is nothing but a shell.

For those who can read Tamil – The word குடம்பை can mean either ‘nest’ or ‘shell’. Devaneya Paavaanar explains here why he treats it as shell while some commentators treat it as nest. https://t.co/jgxSH2dS9s

குடம்பை – egg shell
புள் – bird

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