Appraisal in PuranAnooRu

வேந்தற்கு ஏந்திய தீந்தண் நறவம்
யாம்தனக்கு உறுமறை வளாவ, விலக்கி,
வாய்வாள் பற்றி நின்றனென்’ என்று,
சினவல் ஓம்புமின் சிறுபுல் லாளர்!
ஈண்டே போல வேண்டுவன் ஆயின்,
‘என்முறை வருக’ என்னான், கம்மென
எழுதரு பெரும்படை விலக்கி,
ஆண்டு நிற்கும் ஆண்தகை யன்னே.
புறநானூறு (292)

Warriors line for the rationed beer
Some men raise concern:
"He breaks the queue, 'should be made clear.
Discipline he should learn"
"Blades of grass you are, I fear
Tame your belly burn
When the battle call rings loud and clear
He waits not for his turn"


  1. You translating? I applauding. Seriously, with rhyme and all, good job man.

  2. Intha "belly burn" enbathai, more "mathematical arts" jargon'il "stomach plamsa" endru kattravar kooruvar enbathai mattravar ariga :)

  3. ezhuthu pizhai aagivittathu
    "stomach plamsa alla", "stomach plasma".

  4. Dagalti Saar, seconding Mr.RK here -- kalakkal translation! Anyway, I wouldn't have understood a word of this (sounds to me like the Chola kaalathu Thamizh they treated us to in AO). But the English verse is something else -- my (truly back-alley) literary treat of the week, thank you! :-)

    Mister Mutrupulli, even in your typo there be thaththuvom, thusly: Seems to me like someone's asking if there are plums buried in the belly that's bringing on the burn...

  5. Thank you Groucho.

    Mutruppulli, appidi kooRinaal rhyme scheme baadhikkappadum enbadhaiyum matrvar aRiga. :-)


    //kalakkal translation!// Thank You
    // Anyway, I wouldn't have understood a word of this// I wouldn't have either. I had Sujatha's lucid paraphrasing to guide.

    //Chola kaalathu Thamizh they treated us to in AO// Haven't seen AO, but I understand it was language frozen around 12-13th century. It is relatively more accessible.

    The Sangam poems belong to early centuries of the first millenium. Our amazement stems from the continuity in the language. How certain expressions still make sense.

    சிறு புல்லாளர் is the epithet the poets confers on the complaining soldiers.

    காலா உனை நான் சிறு புல்லென மதிக்கிறேன் -பாரதி in the 20th century !

    This is the kind of thing that thrills me.

  6. Absolutely fantastic work, I love the way you've managed to work in rhyme. It's inspired me to revive my long-slumbering project to translate Sangam poetry into Norwegian - although, as you'll see on my blog, I opted for alliteration rather than rhyme in my version.

    Incidentally, you'll probably like what Avvai Duraisami Pillai says about this purappattu in his commentary. The Government of TN has put the whole thing online, here's a link to his commentary on Puram. 292:

  7. Thank You.
    I was actually trying to be half-frivolous and hence the use of rhyme - though I enjoy attempting to create rhyme.

    As you may have noticed I couldn't help leaving a bunch of things on the table. Most notably, the image of the milling crowd and the man wading through it to come to the forefront in the war (பெரும்படை விலக்கி)

    I tried reading your blog (with google's auto translation - but it can do only so much, certainly not in a way that will help me appreciate poetry !).

    Tamil into Norwegian must be quite rare, I am glad to hear about it. I am also curious, is Tamil taught in Universities there ? Is there an audience for the language's works ?

  8. Yes, I liked the slightly irreverent, tongue-in-cheek approach, which manages to preserve some of the more profound bits of the poem, in an Ogden Nash sort of way.

    Re Tamil in Norway: It's not taught at Universities. The University of Oslo offers a course in Sanskrit, and M.S. Subbulakshmi used to feature as one of the artistes they discussed in their course on World Music. But that's about it. That having been said, there are several thousand Jaffna Tamils in Norway (plus a small number of Malaysian Tamils and a miniscule number of Indian Tamils), so Tamil has some name recognition. I recently translated a poem by Thevakullathar from Kuruntokai ("நிலத்தினும் பெரிதே வானினும் உயர்ந்தன்று") for a teacher's handbook to illustrate differences in literary culture.


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