What He Said
What could my mother be
What kin is my father
to yours anyway?
did you and I meet ever?
But in love our hearts are as red
earth and pouring rain:
mingled beyond parting.
- Cembulappeyani:ra:r (Kuruntokai 40)
Another translation of the same poem by Nirmaldasan
Who are you and who am I? Who's your sire and who is mine? Sprung from what illustrious line? Yet as red earth and rain combine, Our loving hearts mingling lie.
This love-lyric is part of the Sangam era in Tamil Literature. There were many poets who wrote the poems but none were known by their names. They signed the poem with a line from the poem. So the poet who wrote the above lines was known as the poet of Red Earth and Pouring Rain. This tradition absolutely amazes me as the poets during that age did not want any attention and thus remained being anonymous. The poems of a particular landscape consist of elements that are found in their region thus making its appeal very local and unique.
The ancient Tamils also divided their landscapes into five major regions namely kurinchi (the mountains), mullai (the pastoral), palai (the desert), marutham (the riverine plains) and neythal (the seacoast). Each landscape was associated with a phase in love. The poem above is from the kurinchi landscape and exemplifies love in union.
The ancient Tamil system of connecting their landscape and the emotional patterns in love is a convention that has led many modern poets to write similar poems.
Hope you enjoyed reading the poem. Ask me for more . . .
Photo courtesy: Internet