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Archive for October, 2011

To arrange words

Monday, October 24th, 2011

To arrange words
In some order
Is not the same thing
As the inner poise
That's poetry.

The truth of poetry
Is the truth
Of being.
It's an experience
Of truth.

No ornaments
A crucible.
Fire reveals
Only molten

Says Tuka
We are here
To reveal.
We do not waste


Sant Tukaram's poem translated by Dilip Chitre

Sattimurram Pulavar’s poem

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Stork! Stork! Red-legged stork!

Red-legged stork with the coral beak that tapers

Like the cleft root of the fruitful palmyrah tree!

When you and your wife have bathed at the southern cape,

If you should return to the North,

Stop at the home of Sattimurram at our village,

And tell my wife, who must be intently watching 

The clicking lizard on the rain-wet wall,

That in the city of our king Maran,

without a garment, and shivering from the cold,

Covering my body with my hands,

Embracing my bosom with my legs,

And sighing like a snake within a case,

Me, you have seen here. 


Source: A history of Tamil literature, section 10, The people's poets, page 229. Translation by authors C Jesudasan and Hephzibah Jesudasan. About this poem and poet, the authors write: 

For the Tamils cherish the memory, not of these (sittar poets), as much as of those isolated wandering bards, who with simplicity and sincerity have touched on some of the tenderest chords of life. Many of these poets could not have even been recognized by the Sanskrit standards and several were downright beggars. Avvai had said 'When hunger comes, everything else takes wing'. Hunger had come to the people, yet poetry had not abandoned them. 

A humble poet, called Sattimurra-p-pulavar, has left a very beautiful poem supposed to be addressed by a wandering bard to a stork. It not only shows the sorrows of the Tamil bard at the time, but it is exquisite poetry, with the delicate aroma of Sangam literature on it, and as a sheer picture of poverty excelled only by Perumcittirnar's words to Kumanan. Though we cannot translate the diction, we shall render into English the idea of this poem, which is found today in most anthologies of miscellaneous Tamil verses. 

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