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‘கற்றை ஈந்தின் முற்றுக் குலை அன்ன
ஆள் இல் அத்தத் தாள் அம் போந்தைக்
கோளுடை நெடுஞ் சினை ஆண் குரல் விளிப்பின்,
புலி எதிர் வழங்கும் வளி வழங்கு ஆர் இடைச்
சென்ற காதலர் வந்து, இனிது முயங்கி,
பிரியாது ஒரு வழி உறையினும், பெரிது அழிந்து
உயங்கினை, மடந்தை!’ என்றி-தோழி!-
அற்றும் ஆகும், அஃது அறியாதோர்க்கே;
வீழாக் கொள்கை வீழ்ந்த கொண்டி
மல்லல் மார்பு மடுத்தனன்
புல்லு மற்று எவனோ அன்பு இலங்கடையே?
“From the long fronds
of a deserted talipot tree
with clusters thick and hard
like an old date- palm’s,
a male bird calls to its mate,
and the listening tiger
roars in echo
on those difficult roads
where hot winds blow –
but then your lover who went there
has hugged you sweetly ever since
and you’ve lain together
in one place,
why do you look like a ruin,
why do you grieve, my girl?”
So you ask friend.
It could look like that to someone
who doesn’t know.
What’s the use
of longing faithfully
for his chest
that’s now like the cold beaches
of Tonti city
famous in mouth of many?
When love is gone,
what’s copulation worth?
Translated by A.K.Ramanujan
This poem is sung by the Talaivi . Initially, Panki(her friend) asks her why she is still sad even after her husband’s return. Panki points out that though Taliavan is back and making love to the Talaivi,Talaivi seems to be grieving much worse than the days when her Talaivan was away. Talaivi replies that she no more likes the embraces of her husband, since it is no more a special act which was indented only for her. Now Talaivan embraces many harlots and hence feeling of being Talaivans only love is being lost and hence she is starting to hate the physical embraces of her husband. Talaivi feels its meaningless to have sexual union with her husband when there is no love between them. The Talaivi here expresses that there is no difference between physical and emotional love. Love and making love are not two different acts to the Talaivi, rather she believes only if two souls are in emotional love with each other the physical love would make sense.
This poem has lot of embedded meaning to it,
‘From the long fronds of a deserted Talipot tree with clusters thick and hard like an old date- palm’s’
Talipot palm are the typical palm trees we witness in South India. They are not used for growing dates. Rather they are cultivated to produce Tody.(Another interesting fact is using leaves of this tree they made the palmleaf paper or ‘Aedu’).
The Date palm is a variety of palm which is used to produces edible dates.
The poet here says ‘ the talipot tree with clusters thick and hard like an old date- palm’s’, he means that harlot(talipot tree) looks the same as Talaivi(date palm) to the Talaivan. If we go deeper, this shows nature of the talaivan who has started showing preference to pleasure giving activities (toddy producing talipot tree – pleasure giving harlots) than true love (his wife).
When the poet says ‘a male bird calls to its mate, and the listening tiger roars in echo’ , he means that when Talaivan was trying to show her attention to Talaivi, the Harlot has roared like a tiger to break the intimate moment and stole Talaivan away from the Talaivi.
The brilliance of the Sangam poets was that they were able integrate the imageries they found in nature to the context of the love poems they wrote. Each description of the nature in the love poems had a hidden meaning to it and usually sums up the mood of the poem. This is very unique to sangam literature and one of the main reasons why sangam literature is hailed as a classical literature.
Narrinai commentry by Narayanaswami iyer.
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