Translation / December 2013 (Issue 22)

Three Poems from The Interior Landscape

ancient Tamil love poetry translated by A.K. Ramanjuan

 What He Said

Love, love,
they say. Yet love
is no new grief
nor sudden disease; nor something
that rages and cools.
                Like madness in an elephant,
                coming up when he eats
                certain leaves,

                love waits
                for you to find
                someone to look at.

                                                         Kuṟ 136

What She Said

My friend,
I will not think again of him,

of his long seashore
noisy with birds

the aṭumpu creeper with leaves cloven
as the hooves of a deer,
the bright-bangled women
prying open for their games
its flowers that look like the shiny beads and bells
on a horse’s neck,

and I will let me eyes sleep

                                           Nampi Kuṭṭuvan
                                                       Kuṟ 244

What Her Girl-Friend Said to Him

     not that we did not hear the noise
     you made trying to open the bolted doors,
     a robust bull elephant
     stirring in the night
     of everyone’s sleep;

we did. But as we fluttered inside
like a peacock in the net,
crest broken, tail feathers flying

our good mother held us close
in her innocence
thinking to quell our fears.

                                             Kuṟ 244

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