Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kambaramayanam – 604

As passion flooded, her body and soul waned
like her thread thin waist; love that entered
through her lengthy eyes, spread all over her,
like a drop of buttermilk that enters milk.

மால் உற வருதலும்,  மனமும் மெய்யும் தன்
நூல் உறு மருங்குல்போல்  நுடங்குவாள், நெடும்
கால் உறு கண் வழிப்  புகுந்த காதல் நோய்,
பால் உறு பிரை எனப், பரந்தது எங்குமே.

In Kamban’s Ramayanam, Sita and Rama meet the day before the Swayamvaram. As he walks through Mithila, he sees her standing in her palace. It is love at first sight. He walks away after that, without a word being spoken. She is love sick and suffers from his thought. This is one of the poems in that situation.

Due to immense passion her body and soul weakened and waned like her slender waist. Love that entered through her lengthy eyes spread through out her soul and consumed her. Love destroys her reserve and pervades her completely. It was like a drop of buttermilk that enters a pot of milk and spreads everywhere fermenting the milk.

This simile, like a drop of buttermilk in milk (பால் உறு பிரை என) is commonly used in Tamil literature. It is found 2000 year old Puranaanooru 276 (like a drop of buttermilk curdling the milk he destroyed the enemies), 1200 year old Manikkavasagar’s Thiruvasagam 21.5 (Siva is hidden like butter in fermented milk) and in Kambaramayanam itself again (as a simile for Lakshmana destroying the enemy formation in war.)

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