Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Puranaanooru – 259

Oh warrior with shining sword and anklets,
who walks alongside cows that leap and prance
like a tribal woman possessed by spirits,
long live your valor; wait, don’t rush forward;
beware  of skilled archers who stay back
hiding in the leafy forest, as the herd
of bulls and cows they stole move ahead.  

ஏறுடைப் பெரு நிரை பெயர்தர, பெயராது,
இலை புதை பெருங் காட்டுத் தலை கரந்து இருந்த
வல் வில் மறவர் ஒடுக்கம் காணாய்;
செல்லல், செல்லல்; சிறக்க, நின் உள்ளம்,
முருகு மெய்ப் பட்ட புலைத்தி போலத்
தாவுபு தெறிக்கும் ஆன்மேல்
புடை இலங்கு ஒள் வாள் புனை கழலோயே!

Raiding the opponents livestock and recovering such stolen livestock is a common theme in Puranaanooru poems. In this poem, the warrior wants to chase the herd that is being stolen by the enemy clan. The poet advises him to not to rush forward. “Those who stole the cows will be hiding in the foliage in the forest to attack the recovery party. So be watchful, finish off your enemies before going forward. I am not holding you back because I doubt your valor. Long live your valor.”

Don’t rush headlong into battle. Be aware of hidden snipers who will attack you on the way. Clear the ground before moving forward.

I have altered the structure of the poem (transposing the first 3 line with the last 4 lines) for easy readability.

கழல் – Anklets (whic were given as token of honor to warriors of the clan)
புலைத்தி – generally translated as low caste woman, which seems to be a later day meaning. I have taken it as tribal woman, which I understand was the meaning in Sangam era.
உள்ளம் – I have used ‘valor’, though U Ve Saa inteprets it as enthusiasm / zeal.

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