Sangam Translation Index again

Tue Mar 17 15:34:52 UTC 1998

Dr. Ulrike Niklas, Institute of Indology and Tamil studies,
Univ. of Koeln, posted a web site giving an index of translated
ancient Tamil sangam poetry. Evidently, only a small percentage
has been translated. This 2,000+ year old Indian heritage
from the oldest living language (spoken by millions even today) in the
subcontinent will be an important component to the understanding
of ancient India. It assumes special significance
as these poems are not based on Sankrit as their "meta-models".
This can happen only when all the Tamil sangam corpus is fully translated.
Even amidst the available translations, some are not in good English.

By delving deep into Sangam texts, the World of Indology can open up
new fields of knowledge to understand ancient India.
Invitations to all of you!

The following three aesthetic translations can be added to the Index.
They are from:
V. S. Rajam,
A reference grammar of classical Tamil poetry,
(150 B.C - pre-fifth century A.D.)
American Philosophical Society, 1992

N. Ganesan

aiGkuRunuuRu 423
Translation by David D. Shulman, Hebrew university

Dark clouds
Let loose their rain:
her bright forehead has gone pale
now that you're to go away.

Still, we haven't deserted you.
No peace of us
any more -

deadly eyes
fading like flowers
are flooded with tears.

puRanaan2uuRu 278
Translation by A. K. Ramanujan, University of Chicago

The old woman's shoulders
       were dry, unfleshed,
       with outstanding veins;
       her low belly
       was like a lotus pad.

        When people said
        her son had taken fright,
        had turned his back on battle
        and died,

        she raged
        and shouted,
                 "if he really broke down
                 in the thick of battle,
                 I'll slash these breasts
                 that gave him suck,"
          and went there,
          sword in hand.

          Turning over body after fallen body,
          she rummaged through the blood-red field
          till she found her son,
          quartered, in pieces,

          and she rejoiced
          more than on the day
          she gave him birth.

akanaan2uuRu 9
Translation by George L. Hart, University of California

Buds of iruppai emerge
like arrow tips stuffed
into swelling quivers,
heads small and sharp, bright
for their task of killing.
Shoots red as copper
plates and in them
the hollow stamens sweet
as butter scratch holes you can see
with their soft ends.

Petals grow loose,
spread in the wind like
rain and hail, on steep paths
red as coral, they spread
like fat on thick blood.
Near that wilderness,
a little town:
women with thin curling hair
raise fine pestles with
ornamental rings and beat
their mortars, and their rhythm
seems to echo the crying
of the owls on high, dark hills.
And I pass by, I leave them behind
urged by strength
hurrying even when the sun
falls, it seems my home is
close, horses speed, and I go
never slowing their pace.
even faster,
reaching even sooner
standing on one side of our fine
high house as she prays
every time the lizard calls
on the wall, in the evening
when cows go home, he comes
and curving his arms around her,
covers her eyes and touches her back
soft as the trunk of a female
elephant, caressed by
her bangled hand:
my woman, chaste and modest,
forehead bright, words
so sweet
My heart has already
gone to her,
covering her soft arms, my heart
has already found its joy.


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