I came across this beautiful poem. When I was reading the commentary I understood the brilliant structure of this poem. So put in some effort to give the essence of the poem with a neat word to word translation.
உரவுக் கடல் உழந்த பெரு வலைப்பரதவர்
மிகு மீன் உணக்கிய புது மணல் ஆங்கண்,
கல்லென் சேரிப் புலவற் புன்னை
விழவு நாறு விளங்கு இணர் அவிழ்ந்து உடன் கமழும்
அழுங்கல் ஊரோ அறன் இன்று; அதனால்,
அறன் இல் அன்னை அருங் கடிப் படுப்ப,
பசலை ஆகி விளிவதுகொல்லோ-
புள் உற ஒசிந்த பூ மயங்கு அள்ளல்
கழிச் சுரம் நிவக்கும் இருஞ் சிறை இவுளி
திரை தரு புணரியின் கழூஉம்
மலி திரைச் சேர்ப்பனொடு அமைந்த நம் தொடர்பே?
அலர் அச்சத்தால்தோழி சிறைப்புறமாகச் செறிப்பு அறிவுறீஇயது.-உலோச்சனார்
What her girl friend said,
the lover within earshot,behind a fence
On the new sand
their big nets
ripped apart by an angry sea,
dry their great hauls of fish
in a humming neighborhood
of meat smells,
a laurel tree blossoms
all at once in bright clusters
fragrant as a festival,
but this unfair town
is noisy with gossip.
And what with an unfair Mother too
keep strict watch over us,
will our love just perish here
in sallow patches,
this love for our man
of the seashore
loosened by the traffic of birds
mix with the mud of the backwaters,
where the big-maned chariot horses galloping there
are washed clean
by the waves of the sea?
Translated by A.K.Ramanujan
Thalaivan and Thalaivi have met each other , fallen in love. The have made secret night meetings(most probably made love). Then the girl is struck by love sickness. The mother of the girl notices it and keeps her in a house arrest(gossips are . This makes it difficult for the Thalaivan to meet Thalaivi. Thalaivi here urges the Thalaivan who is hiding behind trees to be bold and come forward and marry her .
To understand the structure of the poem , I felt that it is necessary to understand the whole poem line by line. So I have broken my head for a week(surely an exaggeration) and given here a word by word translation
1.உரவுக் -கடல்- உழந்த- பெரு -வலைப்பரதவர்
In constant motion-sea-(caused)suffer-(to the)big-net-(using)parathavar(resident of mullai tract )
2.மிகு -மீன் -உணக்கிய -புது -மணல் -ஆங்கண்,
huge quantity(of) – fish-(being)dried-(in)new- sands – there(that place),
3.கல்லென் சேரிப் புலவற் புன்னை
sound of excitement-(in the)coastal village- (with) smell of fish -(where) punnai tree
4.விழவு நாறு விளங்கு இணர் அவிழ்ந்து உடன் கமழும்
(with)festival(like)-fragrance- renowned-cluster of flowers- opens(blossoms)- emits fragrance
5.அழுங்கல் ஊரோ அறன் இன்று; அதனால்,
loud noisy – village – (which is)virtue – no (virtue less);that’s why,
6.அறன் இல் அன்னை அருங் கடிப் படுப்ப,
7.பசலை ஆகி விளிவதுகொல்லோ–
paleness(love sickness)-become-extinct-will it (would the love(of chieftain of the sea) get extinct in love sickness)
8.புள் உற ஒசிந்த பூ மயங்கு அள்ளல்
birds-with force(sit and)-bend (the branches)under weight-flower-(is)tossed-(into)mud(dy)
9.கழிச் சுரம் நிவக்கும் இருஞ் சிறை இவுளி
marsh/backwater-salt (salty backwater)-remain-(on)tight bond- horse (muddy marsh on horse bound to the chariot)
10.திரை தரு புணரியின் கழூஉம்
waves-cause(by)-sea-cleanse(mud on the horse) by wash
11.மலி திரைச் சேர்ப்பனொடு அமைந்த நம் தொடர்பே?
abundance-sea-chieftain of the sea-happened-our -relationship(love).(should come as continuation of the line with paleness)
Now check the first line,
The sea which is in constant motion causes big suffering to the Parathavars who use big fishing nets.
Emotion of the line: Suffering
Now the second line,
Huge quantity of fishes dried in the new sands of their village
Emotion of the line : Happiness – though they suffered in the sea , their hard work is payed off with huge quantity of the catch they have brought home. A enduring a suffering has resulted in great pleasure.
The village buzzing with excitement is filled with smell of the fish
Smell: Stinking fish smell
Festival like fragrance emitted by the blossomed clusters of the punnai flowers
Smell: Fragrance – The stinking smell of the fish is offset by the festival like fragrance of the punnai flowers.
Now lets jump to line 9,
The muddy backwater stays on the horse bound to the chariot
Appearance: Dirtiness – horse with mud all over it.
is washed away by the waves caused by the sea
Appearance: Cleanliness. The mud in the body of the horse while walking in the muddy swarms is cleansed by the waves of the sea.
Now lets come to other part,
The virtue less village is noisy with gossips.
cause: Gossips about the girl in the village.
The unfair mother keeping her in strict watch(fearful trap)
Effect: Girl being house arrested.
Now the finishing effect:
will the love with the chieftain die with the paleness of her body
Explanation: due to love sickness the women’s skin has become pale. Like the skin getting lighter day by day would her love also gets faded every day?
The birds by their force bend the branch and make the flowers fall down in the muddy backwaters
Explanation: Compare this to line 5 and 6. The villagers (birds) by their gossips(force) make mother house arrest the girl(bend the branch) and make the girl fall into love sickness(flowers falling down into the muddy back waters)
Now let me assemble different parts of the puzzle in the right place:
The suffering of fishermen are eased by their catch(huge quantity of fish).
The stinking smell of the fishes are nullified by the fragrance of the punnai flowers.
The dirtiness of the horse washed clean by the waves of the sea.
All these three lines suggest that any suffering can be eased out by certain other actions.
So comes the last line,
Love with the Chieftain of the land abundant with sea shores.
So if the Chieftain becomes bold enough (to ask for marriage to her parents or to elope) and raise like a wave of the sea he could wash away the,
flowers from the muddy backwater(i.e put end to all gossips in the village)
the paleness(love sickness) of his lover.
By uttering this poem she urges the Thalaivan to come and meet her or to take a bold step in consideration with their future.
This poem has beautiful structure which flows naturally and at the same time conveying the inner tension and emotion without any hindrance. I hope by this step by step approach I have able to clearly make you readers understand the importance of each line in the beautifully structured poem.
Literary conventions of akam poetry by Kamil Zvelebil
Narrinai commentary by Narayanaswami iyer
Poems on Love and war – A.K.Ramanujan
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