Friday, January 08, 2010

A Poem That Came to Mind

Today, I witnessed an instance of riding a high horse. That rekindled a verse from this 2,000-year old Tamil poem from "Purananuru" (புறநானூறு) -- especially the concluding lines. Professor George Hart and Hank Heifetz's wonderful translation of Poet Kaniyan Poongunranar's (கணியன் பூங்குன்றனார்) was available in the net over here.

While the starting lines are very famous amongst Tamils -- "Every city is your city; Everyone is your kin" (யாதும் ஊரே ; யாவரும் கேளிர்), it's a mystery to me as to why the final lines aren't.
It's neatly translated as "and so we are not amazed at those who are great and even less do we despise the weak." Try translating that from "ஆகலின், மாட்சியின் பெரியோரை வியத்தலும் இலமே; சிறியோரை இகழ்தல் அதனினும் இலமே".

I bought this tome from India (Penguin India) a few years ago. And am still amazed how such a work could have even been attempted by non-native Tamil researchers.