During May, we will publish selected English translations of poems from the Purananuru, one of the early Tamil anthologies of poetry generally dated between the first century B.C.E and the fifth century C.E.
These 400 songs of war and wisdom, in our view, are representative of some of the feelings of the Tamil people as, two years later, they remember the events of 2009.
Each poem in the Purnanuru is assigned a tinai which corresponds to a ‘tract of land, time of day, situation’ and a raga in which the poem is sung. Each tinai is further subdivided into a turai (a theme or subject).
All these poems are extracted from ‘An Anthology of Poems from classical Tamil: The Purananuru’ translated and edited by George L Hart and Hank Heifetz.
Song 255 - Vanparanar sings
Tinai – Potuviyal (general heroism)
Turai - Mutupaalai
If I start to scream I fear the tigers may come for you!
If I hug you and try to lift you up, I cannot raise
your broad chest. May unjust Death, who brought you pain
shiver till he is exhausted, just as I do. Take my hand
which is still dense with bangles and we
will go into the shadow of the mountain. Only walk a little while
- A woman addresses the body of her husband who has fallen on the battlefield. The fact that ‘her hands is still dense with bangles’ indicates that she has not yet assumed the condition of widowhood.