Guest poem submitted by Sudha Shastri
(Poem #471) This world lives
This world lives because Some men do not eat alone, not even when they get the sweet ambrosia of the gods; they've no anger in them, they fear evils other men fear but never sleep over them; give their lives for honor, will not touch a gift of whole worlds if tainted; there's no faintness in their hearts and they do not strive for themselves. Because such men are, this world is.
This is a poem from the Sangam Tamil written by a poet called Ilam Peruvaluti (Puranuru 182 - must confess I do not know what exactly this means ) and translated by A. K. Ramanujan. I am unsure about what to comment on. Obviously there is adherence to metre of a sort which the translator has tried to follow. No doubt it is all very expressly laid down in the Tamil. Sudha Shastri. [thomas adds] Ramanujan has featured on the Minstrels before: check out 'A River', at poem #382, and 'Extended Family', at poem #434. As several of you have pointed out, the Minstrels could do with more examples of poetry written in languages other than English. Sadly, neither Martin nor myself is terribly conversant with such poetry; however, we have managed to cover a fair amount thereof, thanks to the mechanism of guest submissions. Some of my especial favourites are: 'Banalata Sen', by Jibanananda Das, poem #446 'The Winter River', a haiku by Buson, poem #277 'A Prison Evening', by Faiz, poem #118 Fitzgerald's translation of 'The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam', two separate extracts, poem #162 and poem #342. 'Romance Sonambulo', by Federico Garcia Lorca, poem #210 'The Midnightmouse', by Christian Morgenstern, poem #252 'Coda', by Octavio Paz, poem #442 'Madhushala', by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, poem #72 Also, sort by poet and look for 'Anon' - we've covered snatches of verse in tongues ranging from Hebrew to Welsh to Serbian to Navajo... The next incarnation of the website (webmaster Sitaram, are you listening?) will (we hope) include a 'search by theme' feature; translated poetry will be one of those themes. thomas. [Brittanica on Sangam Literature] ... the earliest writings in the Tamil language. The writings are thought to have been produced in three cankams, or literary academies, in Madurai, India, from the 1st to the 4th century AD. The Tolkappiyam, a book of grammar and rhetoric, and eight anthologies (Ettuttokai) of secular poetry were compiled: Kuruntokai, Narrinai, Akananuru, Ainkurunuru, Kalittakai, Purananuru, Patirruppattu, and Paripatal. These secular writings are possibly unique in early Indian literature, which is almost entirely religious. The poems are concerned with two main topics, love and the praise of kings and their deeds. Many of them, especially on the latter subject, display great freshness and vigour and are singularly free from the literary conceits of much of the other early and medieval literatures of India. Since they are almost entirely secular, these poems are also free from the complex mythical allusions that are such an outstanding feature of most Indian art forms. There are, nonetheless, some instances of religious works in cankam poetry. Pattupattu ("The Ten Long Poems") contains the earliest Indian poem of personal devotion to a god, and Paripatal contains poems about Vishnu, Siva, and Murugan. -- EB (I remember studying about Sangam poetry in the 9th grade, but this is the first time I've actually read an example - t.)