from Kuruntokai

Various Tamil Poets

The bowman wears a warrior's leg band   she an armlet
also a young girl's anklet    Good people   poor things   but
who are they    in these lands    where     like
drummers for tightrope walkers   the wind reels and rattles
hanging white seedpods of the vaakai tree       And the two of them
walking with the others   on these barren bamboo-crossed paths

Kuruntokai 7 – Perumpatamanar

Stitching flowers picked by mountain ponds
chasing parrots from the fields    the innocent-eyed girl
I wonder if she knows   in the middle of the night
I'm sighing like   a slumbering elephant     My

thoughts    after parting    have not left her

Kuruntokai 142 – Kapilar

Suppose it all goes wrong
no witness to our love that afternoon
except a heron on slender green legs
hunting fish in the shallow stream.

Kurunthokai 25 – Kapilar

I want to get up
and break things   scream
split my head in two

The cool southern breeze wakens
the fire of love in me

Cruel   this village
in its blissful sleep

Kurunthokai 28 - Avaiyyar

That small hill settlement where    the rain clouds range
the cows long for their calves    that land
where the deep green is covered     by white jasmine
under a reddening sky     just thinking about it
I feel like dying

Kuruntokai 108 – Vaayilantevanar

kookoo said the cock    on that
my simple heart leaped     shook with fear
pressed to my lover    shoulder to shoulder
dawn like a sword    rending us apart

Kuruntokai 157 – Allur Nanmullayar

translated from the Tamil by Vivek Narayanan