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Details | Tamil Poem | |

A money-order to Tamil Nadu

The software to write and read
Inside his cranium not installed.
Before me, his Tamil heart placed,
Which through Malayalam saw I,
As if in a mist; as pleaded,
The money-order form I filled
For the laborer came state border crossed.
His cell phone had chirped incessantly,
And he borrowed shamelessly.
A Desdemona, or a Lady Macbeth? Mind’s vacuum it dropped.

Rupees bring smile on her lips,
Beyond the sight behold I,
As the sun appears
Out of dark clouds.

(Tamil Nadu  is a neighbouring state of Kerala state in India.
Tamil is spoken in Tamil Nadu . Malayalam is  spoken in Kerala.
These two languages are closely related.)


Details | Tamil Poem | |

Poem by Kasiananthan on the Tamil Diaspora and Eelam, trans by T Wignesan

The Parrot and the Woodpecker may turn...
    [Sung by TEnicayccal Cellappa]        Translated by T.Wignesan
mAnkiliyum marankottiyum                    The parrot and the woodpecker

   kUtutirumpa tatayillai                             their nests to regain  nothing waylays

nAnkal mattum ulakattilEyE                    Only we  in all this world

   nAtutirumpa mutiyavillai                        our homeland to seek may not turn      

   nAtutirumpa mutiyavillai                        our homeland to seek may not turn

                            [Above refrain repeated twice]

cinkalavan pataivAnil                               From skies filled with Sinhalese planes

  neruppai alli corikiratu                             fire tumbles down in seething showers 

enkal uyir tamil Elam                              Our lifeblood   our Tamil Eelam

  cutukAtAy erikiratu                                      a simmering graveyard on fire


tAykatarap pillaikalin                               While mothers rave in pain  children’s

 nencukalaik kilikkinrAn                             breasts  the oppressor tears apart

kAyyAkum munnE ilam                           Long before they might ripen    tender

  pincukalai alikkirAn                                  the buds crushed from burgeoning


pettavankal UrilE                                   Those who begot us back home

 Enku rAnku pAcattilE                              tossing  turning in their longing for us

ettanai nAl kArttiruppOm                       For how many days might we linger on

 atuttavan tEcattilE                                  in the other man’s refugee land

unnavum mutiyavillai                                Without proper food

 urankavum mutiyavillai                              without sufficient sleep

ennavum mutiyavillai                                Unable rightly even to think

  innumtAn vitiyutillai                                  when will the day dawn for us


kitti pullu atittu nankal                              We who played at kitti pullu*

 vilaiyAtum teruvilEyE                                  joyously in the heedless streets

katti vayttuc cutukirAnAm                         There now tethered  others lie felled

 yAr manatum urukavillai                             no  no hearts pain for us

Ur katitam patikkayilEyE                       When our eyes light on letters from home

 vimmi nencu vetikkitu                           sobs prise open our brimming breasts

pOrpulikal pakkattilEyE                         By the flanks of battling Tigers

 pOkamanam tutikkitu                            there to be  our hearts throb and yearn


Note: * A competitive game played by hitting a small stick with a bigger one, the goal being to cover the greatest distance. Also called in Tamil Nadu and Malaysia: kavuntA kavunti.                                      

© T. Wignesan – Paris, 1995. From the collection: “Words for a Lost Sub-Continent” (2001). Excerpted from “Kasi Ananthan: Poet Laureae of Tamil Eelam” by T. Wignesan in Hot Spring: A Journal of Commitment, Vol. 3, No. 9 (London), December 1998, pp. 17-18.

Details | Tamil Poem | |

Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part Two

                            Part Two

                                          SEVEN STARK WORDS
Seven alliterative blockbuster words struck so
    they rhymed initially in juxta-positioning lineal parallels
pausing but in the fourth
        to resume breath in the fifth
Leaving the interstitial morphemes in resonating ellipses

The economy of your parsing has wreaked havoc down the ages
      in all trans-explicatory tongues
Tough-minded men come from afar
                                  with other gods to serve
    and sacrifices to make in the name of their Lords
bent your versification to limp rhyme
             and left meaning a hung pursuit
in the hands of plagiarists professors preachers
not knowing nor divining the reason for your craftsman’s
concatenation of weighted phonemes
advanced theories for your elastic pregnant mind
               strung myriads of pages in exegeses
each staking a claim to posterity
  the villainous hanging on your lips

In a time devoid of papered learning for the poor
When to be born a Sudra or Pariah was a sin
When masters were those top-heavy manically-mantric Brahmin priests
   Preying on the duped loyal sycophantic Vaishyas
        wishing to earn karmic merit with their agricultural gain at their altar feet
such servant-financers as they by legions now lay their souls down
as even the long-gone royally leisure-dispensing Kshaktriyas

how would he who sought the spread of knowledge
    not seek to encapsulate learning in mnemonic couplets
arranged according to rigid design
    for those who could not count either

Ten fingers in the hand so
       Ten the number of facets of a thought
              a subject
                           a theme
even if theme subject thought were stretched too thin

Details | Tamil Poem | |

with shoes on feet

a grab-and-run pack
a small survival sack
with one set of clothes for spouse and self
passports, a file with just few mails
an old diary with addresses to contact
in England, Finland, and Switzerland

and some currency notes
couple of thousands
in rupees that does not stretch
like the American dollars
they were what i needed most

as the pogrom was in progress
in my Tamil homeland
while i always went to bed
with shoes on my feet

Details | Tamil Poem | |

En Vuir Tamil Thozha

udan pirappe,
ezhathil neeyum, tamil naatil naanum
avathi padukindrai nee,
vedhanai en nenjil nanba

naan unnai paarthathilai.
mozhiyal ondranom,
vazhkai veruthan, aanal
un kanil kanner, en kanathil odukinrathey!

enna aaruthal solven nanba?
un kannerai kaanum naan
onrum seiyamudiyavillaye
vetkapaduvatha, vethanai paduvatha?

Details | Tamil Poem | |

Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part Three

                                Part Three

Whether or not relations with the uncultured enamour
Do not seek to succour what should sour

What does it matter if you gain or lose inferiors
Who feather their own nests and leave you in a mess

Those who look to the benefit that accrues from friendship
And those who covet largesse are thick as thieves

Better be content to walk alone than surround yourself
With friends who’d ditch you like wild stallions in battle

It’s better to sever than solder vile ties
With the petty-minded who’d fail you in need

By far it’d serve you better to be snubbed by the wise
Than be warmed by the company of narrow-minded fools

It’s infinitely more useful to bear your enemies’ scorn
Than court raucous revellers who’d warm you up with guffaws

Friends who’d proffer help remonstrate and find fault
Might as well shun them with scarcely a farewell

Friends who please by word and yet act otherwise
Crop up as a rude shock even in dreams

Turn away from the friend who snuggles up in private
While he seeks to denounce you in a public place
                     [Tirukkural, Chapter 82: “Evil Friendship”]

No-one contests your calligraphic diamond cutter’s skills
Nor your codifier rôle of existing customs beliefs
      of kingly comportment
             of the wife’s place
                  of manner of securing friendships
                        of the obtention and dispensation of education
      of the seductions in the dainty maiden’s coyness

Nor of your infinite wisdom of the times
Nor of your observation of the passing of life about you
Nor alas! of your inveterate nay obsessive need to pontificate
      in what is evident to the even half-baked


What mattered was to get the lesson through
    even one in ten was well worth the while
if remembered by the unfortunate by birth
Who never traversed the threshold of class and caste
   Who never even buckled exceeding numbers on their toes

To you the ten-by-tens by one-hundred-and-thirty
   perhaps you planned a florilège
                                                  in old age
by weeding out for posterity’s privileged classes
the few quoted over and over

       katka kasatara karka karrapin
                 nitka atatkut take

           vilampu suttapun arum arate
                     navinal sutta vatu 

(Continued in Part Four)

Details | Tamil Poem | |

Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part Six

Is poetry only meant for teaching what is time-honoured
what is authorised
what seeks not to rock the ship of fate

                              Part Six

Helas! My universally-renowned peerless ancestor!
                                                             I’d like to think
You’d be the first to have recognized the always changing world

The first to have accepted the parting of ways
     For your intelligence your foresight and hindsight
Your immensely powerful quill
                would have sought other remedies
     other means to convince
                                              a wayward world
a world far too gone and worldly-wise
      to hatch the nuances of your admonishing word
all afresh

N’empêche your name is a comet
hurtling down the ages

©T.Wignesan, December 2001, Paris, France (from the Sequence: "Words for a Lost Sub-Continent", 1999 )

Details | Tamil Poem | |

Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part One

                                               Part One

“The Kurral owes much of its popularity to its exquisite poetic form. A kurral is a couplet containing a complete and striking idea expressed in a refined and intricate metre. No translation can convey an idea of its charming effect. […] The brevity rendered necessary by the form [composed in the Venpa metre] gives an oracular effect to the utterances of the great Tamil ‘Master of the sentences.’ They are the choicest of moral epigrams. […] Tiruvalluvar is generally very simple, and his commentators very profound.”
          Rev. G.U. Pope, Former Fellow of Madras University

[Pardon these futile measly words from your great Potiya height: they can hardly belittle your true worth.]

Under what leaky hutment roof by stamped-mud floors
    trembling clair-oscuro straw-wick kuttuvilakku
on the stark anvil of crisp phrase and sparse syntax
       by the raging nama-nir rhyming brine
at Mayilapur’s S.Thomé sandy doors
      while peacocks danced to your innate pulsating chimes
           have you chipped away at uncut gems

Those the Yavanas brought with the monsoons
    or such as your sea-daring captain friend Elela-Cinkan’s
Even those the Christian missionaries preached
                  in daredevil enticement
after St.Thomas fell to a vel stuck in his bosom
     or of those like you who were stamped underfoot

Caste in cast-iron strictures
    Priest only to the proclaimer paraiyar drum-beaters
The warp and woof of intricately woven venpa verse
elevating your weaving clan to fresh artistic heights

in the humbled ways of your birth
on whose steps have you pitched your ears
whose wisdom have you had to pilfer
whose ways have you had to ape
whose mere thoughts have you then had to set aright
and remould into inextinguishable lines

Or had you tread the ahimsa path of gentle-foot Jains
Treading gently the earth for fear of loping boot pains

(Continued in Part Two)

Details | Tamil Poem | |

Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part Five

                            Part Five

Some couplets apart
         much remains redundant
    even obvious
inapt by way of pointing to fresher vistas
  and those that follow the rarity of your verse
imbibe nothing else from this age’s handy cornucopia
           of instant wisdom

Your lines served an eminent purpose in your time
  now we bed our minds down by encyclopaedic libraries
      we live on another planet
Your chain-ganged lines served to teach the meek
         the lame of mind
                the dislocated of your time

Yes some still wallow in the same myth
               not from want of will
but from the fear of rebirth
                imprisoned in conditioned belief

                                  and the essor of Dravidian identity
only defering to the feigned purity of Aryanising blood
       reverts to the same mythic belief
some kind of imagined power of breed

History is in the past
        It cannot help the present to liberate itself
If one has not understood the difference
If one has not disowned and let fall meaningless myths

If you dear Valuvan lived in these times
Would you not have disowned your own lines

well perhaps some or more
      not all finding their way into a florilège of your choice

for you know how love in the third part changed with moeurs
         changing with the times
so has the art of governance
      and the unconscionable ways and practices of the artha classes
other precautions more pressing than mere friendship
    would have compelled you to jettison many a couplet

Who knows even your first ten would have found their way
             into a bin
ethical lines of advice
              would turn sour in today’s ear

No child would heed to the letter your admonitions on behaviour
    Nor no wife take her place in the humiliating role of kitchen-helper
No political king will base his reign on your strict plans of concern for etiquette
    No youth seek virtue in the puritanical preachment of bygone observances

One singular contention:
                                     No peasant revolution
                   No women’s liberation
     No religious reformation
                                          grace your pages
the establishment the status quo the traditional hierarchy the Almighty
     All find mindful foundation
in your ardent didacticism
and extend licence to those who cry sacrilege
in the coming dismantling of the clans of castial power

(Continued in Part Six)

Details | Tamil Poem | |

Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part Four

                            Part Four

                                    and you might never have thought
the mighty today are like those trodden poor of your day
at least were shackled to ignorance by force 
         by godly fear
a racially discriminating Overlord

now the privileged in blindness give you lip-service
       and a lot of money
hoping by this gesture to earn your merit
              not earn YOU merit
    and the society’s accolade

You remain abused still
         by the vain undistinguishing crowd
who upon the mention of your name
          rise to feel proud
  of what then
       in their shored-up selves
               of belonging within
the self-same pigment and tongue

None of your real worth passes into them
Nor the reason for your epigrammatic lines

        Should I then beg forgiveness for this affront

(Continued in Part Five)

Details | Tamil Poem | |


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Details | Tamil Poem | |

Show your love

It was an tiny eye that pour a plenty of..
The innocent young boy in the street of war. 
ever since before
Yes, I am not aware about Universe
reality of infinity.
But I am a foolish scientist,
Searching for a long,
Researching under the microscope in vain,
Solutions for the difficulties singe to the sinew.
While looking around where I could go to escape.

The rotations of thoughts are like the particles of milk way..


Since the glance of loving eye has poured in me everything.

Reality very near to me..
The dimension of love is infinity
Where the everlasting peace is being dwelling.
Now I am looking only the eyes of you..
Show your love give the daily bread.

Details | Tamil Poem | |

Buoyancy burden

While I was searching a book to read in my old school
Today maybe changed somehow modernized,
There were lot of rooms,
With many of the destitute instant of books.
Anyway, however, I was swerved..
This is my own school why should I hesitate…
The swot swingle …
You’re my SCHOOL.. Swivelled on you
Who could have changed you like this…?
I am completely distracted..
At least the basement may be kept..
I went on to search into, the basement
My goodness, my school, everything distorted…
.. recasted ..
My sweet heaven you distorted, I am distracted..
I want to see the smile of the portia’s yellow flower..
Where is the doorway? And door steps of margosa?
The premises, the sun kissing ground..
All for me unseen world?

There is suddenly landslide:
Divination , there is my teacher pulling me out, digging
The landslide that covered me, the teacher with a mammoty
I identified first teacher ever remembering.
Now the light, my teacher…!
Pursuit smile ..national uniform in white,
How sweet he is…

Details | Tamil Poem | |

Suburbia Revisisted

Electric Bleeps and bloops
Powerlines buzzing as the

Sunset going behind the roofs

O’lovely neighborhood lost
Facades of families
And degeneration
Of cultural paradigm
No crime
Just a hollow 
husk town
Consuming the lives o’the poor folks
Sigh sigh
but alas
The community 

highway burning over the hill

and man I’ve got way too much 


to kill