Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Red Earth and Pouring Rain

Tamil Sangam literature is cherished for its richness. Though I have just nibbled at the edges of its vast richness, the following sample will suffice, I think, for its greatness. See the usage of the metaphor of red earth and pouring rain for lover's longing. I have given the poem in its Tamizh original and its English translation by inimitable A K Ramanujan.

Incidentally I remember reading elsewhere that this vintage Tamil verse became the first (also the only Asian and Indian) poem in a set of six, displayed on the London subway through June-July 2001.

குறிஞ்சி - தலைவன் கூற்று

யாயும் ஞாயும் யாரா கியரோ
எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம்முறைக் கேளிர்
யானும் நீயும் எவ்வழி யறிதும்
செம்புலப் பெயனீர் போல
அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாங்கலந் தனவே.

-செம்புலப் பெயனீரார்.

Red earth and pouring rain

What could my mother be
to yours? What kin is my father
to yours anyway? And how
Did you and I meet ever?
But in love
our hearts have mingled
as red earth and pouring rain

Translated by AK Ramanujan (Kuruntokai - 40)

A poem from the Eight Anthologies Collection.

1 comment:

mitr_bayarea said...


Thanks for sharing both tamil and english translations of this nice piece.