Sunday, March 13, 2011

Puranaanooru - a long ramble

The posts trumpeted in the podcasts are: Read earth pouring rain and context & Appraisal

Hope this gets some of you hooked into sinking your teeth into the real thing.
Do check out blogger, music-critic Suresh's Kuruntokai translations here


  1. First, thanks for pointing to my translation. I don't think anyone can ever be happy with their translation of Sangam poetry. Every time I look at my translation and then read the original, I feel I should delete my translation.

    This is an excellent effort. If at all something from ancient TamilNadu has to be highlighted, it is Sangam poetry and Kambam. And you are doing that religiously. (Religiously not in the சாமி புஸ்தகம் sense). And you very rightly talk about the fact that we know more of the western myth than our own.

    Sangam poetry is an ocean. In some of the best poems, new meanings keep hitting you like the waves of the ocean. They are also the most touching poetry I have read in Tamil. And I can definitely say that they can stand up to any modern poetry that you read now, either in Tamil or in English. Just to illustrate, Auden's lament for his friend is oft quoted in anthologies and in 'Best of Auden' type of collection. Read that poem and then read the poems that Avvai rights when Paari is dead. You can see how Avvai achieves the same effect as Auden in far lesser sentences. My aim is not to compare poets (I belong to more the merrier party) but to give a glimpse of what was achieved by our forefathers.

    As with all great literature, you need to put in some effort to get at the beauty of these poems. And those who get there will end up partaking this nectar for a long time.

    You voice is excellent and so is your diction and the way you deliver. It was a pleasure listening to your 'ramble'. I have my own take on a couple of the poems you quoted. Will mail it to you later. I think the most important thing you did was to place the poems in their context. If we are to enjoy the Sangam poetry we must shed all our prejudices and understand it was the poetry of a different era and then enter it.

  2. Wonderful. Can you pls give me(us) the references(of the commentaries)? I'd like to follow-up and drench.

  3. Thank you Senthil Kumar.
    Do you mean references to the particular songs? I quoted the numbers as I was speaking. The songs are universally ordered from 1-400.
    I consciously avoided using the names of the poets as they may sound forbidding!

    Suresh, thanks for your comments.
    I'll confess upfront I read only the first 10 or so of your translations. I wanted to read it with the Tamil texts side by side. Never managed to do yet.
    I've also read precious little Sangam literature yet. Apart from Purananooru, I have only read bit of Kuruntokai. I started off with NaRRiNai, as theme (separation and longing) seemed repetitive, I couldn't enjoy much a few poems into it.I immediately abandoned it, because I didn't want to read it with an inappropriate frame of mind, with which I'd be sure to miss good stuff. Ref. previous post for reading frogprances :-)

    Auden's [url=]funeral blues[/url] which you refer to is excellent of course, but I totally see your point about the 'effect' achieved in Sangam poems.

    I am not sure I recall the avvaiyar paadal you mention.The most heart wrenching I've read about Paari is the famous அற்றைத் திங்கள் அவ்வெணிலவில் sung by his daughters. The simplicity, directness in communicating the sense of loss is baffling.

    Will send an email to your id.

  4. imba...superb...
    pona vaaram keshav(The Hindu cartoonist) oda oru lecturukku poirundhen... azhaga onnu sonnar... interpretations padikkardhunaala varra vambu vandhu nammala sub consciousaa avai namma yosikkardha mathidum... nammaloda origionalityaa izhandhudurom...

    sujatha naala neengalm, ungalala naanum adukku bali aaittom...

  5. Today, it's pouring out and seems like just the day to listen to soothing orations such as this one, on age-old topics such as "Red earth and pouring rain" (that took me right back to Compli's ditty from three years back, extrapolating Narumugaye), juxtaposed with (relatively) new sounds that are motorcycle honks and alarm noises dotting your background. I also enjoyed the side-note on tongue-in-cheek references...telling the opposite of whatever is being said by way of reiterating its importance (the "anti-sell" angle)...

    LOL@ "Suyathampattam thaan, enna pannardhu" (in intentionally lowered voice, that too!) and also the absurdity of teaching "Rain Rain Go Away" in our schools. "Porumaiyoda vilayaada vendaam, porumaiyin ellai kullaye vilayaaduvomey" -- adhu!!

    Apparom anga anga "Face that launched a thousand ships", "Go with the flow" ellaam potukkanum. (Oho, already potaacha, good good.)