Metre in the THIRUKKURAL: Kural 35 of Canto 4, a random example
Metre in the THIRUKKURAL: Kural 35 of Canto 4, a random example.
alukkaa ravaavekuli yinnaacchon naangku
milukkaa viyanra tharam (unrefined, given in the original state of
the connective particles of punarcchi rules)
alukkaaru avaavekuli innaacchol naankum
ilukkaa iyanrathu aram (refined, shorn of the connective particles)
Tis virtue when, his footsteps sliding not through envy, wrath,
Lust, evil speech - these four, man onwards moves in ordered path. (Tr. G.U.POPE)
That conduct is virtue which is free from these four things, viz., malice, desire, anger and bitter speech. (Tr. W.H.Drew & J.Lazarus)
The way of vileness, self-congratulatory aid, ire and foul-mouthing - these four attitudes will cause the charity-giver to slip from the natural path of virtue into ignominy. (Tr. T. Wignesan)
Breakdown of the words and their individual meanings:
alukku = foulness; aaru= way; avaa= desire, lust; vekuli= wrath, anger; innaa= unpleasant; chol= words, speech; naangkum= (the latter) four; [ili= slip down, fall down, become vile;] ilukkam= ignominy; iyanrathu= that which has proceeded naturally; aram= virtue.
Scansion: The classical VENBA metre with which the poet has to contend in order to compose a mere two lines - not to mention (I will treat of other prosodical and literary features in the next post) the elements of occasional ambiguity and ambivalence/multivalence with regard to the whole; allusions and symbolism, etc.
First, there are in the Thirukkural 1330 couplets, i.e., 2660 lines, each word or groupings of words making up a foot. Each kural is made up of SEVEN feet. In other words, there are in all 18,620 feet which the poet had to assemble in a particular order according to very strict prosodic rules. This in itself is a formidable and trying task.
In the VENBA metre, there are TEN feet, some have equivalents in the European tradition, like the iambus, trochee, pyrrhic, spondee, anaepest and dactyl, etc.
1) Now, the strict rule is that certain feet ending in a long syllable (THEEMA= spondee and PULIMAA=anaepest) must not be followed by one beginning in a long syllable.
2) Likewise, feet ending in short syllables (KUUVILAM= dactyl and KARUVILAM= proceleusmatic) must be followed by feet beginning with a long syllable.
3) The same rule applies to four other feet (THEEMANGKAI, PULIMAANGKAI, KUUVILANGKAI and KARUVILANGKAI) as in (2) above.
The short syllable can be designated by "u" and the long by "__". Hence, the above kural can be transposed as
uu__ / u__ /uu__ / __ __ __ / __uu /
uu__ / uuu__ / uuU /
The last foot in the kural has its own particularisms, often ending in the phoneme "u", and in the present case, known as PIRAPPU.
© T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017
Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017
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