Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
And Wilderness is Paradise enow. - Omar Khayyam
I read somewhere, 'It is very simple to be happy, but so difficult to be simple.' Perhaps it is because simplicity is something so fundamental and omnipresent that we always lose it - the same way breathing goes unnoticed because of its ubiquity. But the fact is, be it breathing or simplicity (or breathing simplicity), practising both leads to a better life.
The human soul, in essence, has a very organic and basic connection with the earth, mud, sand, rock and clay. That is where we came from and that is where our body finally goes. As a child we play on the sand, when we grow up we write the names of our beloved on it, then we trace lost footprints and finally become food for the same, perhaps some day blooming as a flower or as a blade of green grass. Land is possibly the most basic reason for all human actions after love. Wars have been fought, leaders have been born and struggles have been faced-all in the name of land and its freedom. Even today, when people speak about the real estate boom, what they essentially mean is that we are still attached to mud and clay...but we've lost the innocence of playing with them.
Today we seek electronic gadgets, talk and reality shows, shopping experiences and planned vacations to free the mind, to relax. But no relaxation was needed as long as man worked on land, as long as he let his bare feet touch her as he tilled Her with his plough. There he toiled while listening to the song of the birds, while bathing in the glorious sunlight, while beads of sweat dazzled like diamonds on his body, while the breeze caressed and kissed him. He toiled with the knowledge that a loving wife would bring him food at mid-day. He toiled knowing that the gurgling brook nearby would refresh him soon. He worked in freedom. His work found expression in the world around him. There was a self sufficiency in everything he did. His art reflected this.
And even as we move away from this idyllic peace, it is this art of the bygone era that still holds us back. A few of us, when we read these poems of simple desire,close our eyes and dream of a silent tranquil world where work, effort and toil blend seamlessly into the background of silence and peace. We think of this dream, the dream of a promised land, and sigh. Then comes a poet who writes the same words, but this time more from the heart, more truly. Then we see the promise is not altogether false. For even here in our own everyday rut, these songs come as a waft of a gentle breeze and wake us into a world of serenity. And, even if only for a moment, we realize the perfection where action meets purpose and they unite in the calmness of absolute knowledge.
In this translation, I hope to introduce you to one such work and lead you by my hand to this world of eternal peace, to this land...
காணி நிலம் வேண்டும் பராசக்தி காணி நிலம் வேண்டும் - அங்குத்
தூணில் அழகியதாய் நன்மாடங்கள் துய்ய நிறத்தினவாய் - அந்தக்
காணி நிலத்திடையே ஓர் மாளிகை கட்டித் தர வேண்டும் - அங்குக்
கேணியருகினிலே தென்னைமரம் கீற்றும் இளநீரும்
பத்துப் பன்னிரெண்டு தென்னைமரம் பக்கத்திலே வேணும் - நல்ல
முத்துச் சுடர் போலே நிலாவொளி முன்பு வரவேணும் - அங்குக்
கத்தும் குயிலோசை சற்றே வந்து காதிற் படவேணும் - என்றன்
சித்தம் மகிழ்ந்திடவே நன்றாய் இளந்தென்றல் வரவேணும்
பாட்டுக் கலந்திடவே அங்கே ஒரு பத்தினிப் பெண் வேணும் - எங்கள்
கூட்டுக் களியினிலே கவிதைகள் கொண்டு தர வேணும் - அந்தக்
காட்டு வெளியினிலே அம்மா நின்றன் காவலுற வேணும் - என்றன்
பாட்டுத் திறத்தாலே இவ்வையத்தைப் பாலித்திட வேணும்
kANi nilam vENdum parAsakthi kANi nilam vENdum -angguth
thUNil azagiyathAy nanmAdanggaL thuyya niRaththinavAy -anthak
kkANi nilaththidaiyE Or mALigai kattith thara vENdum - angguk
kENiyaruginilE thennaimaram kIRRum iLanIrum
paththup pannireNdu thennaimaram pakkaththilE vENum - nalla
muththuc cudar pOlE nilAvoLi munbu varavENum - angguk
kaththum kuyilOsai saRRE vanththu kAthiR padavENum - enRan
siththam magiznththidavE nanRAy iLanthenRal varavENum
pAttuk kalanthidavE anggE oru paththinip peN vENum - enggaL
kUttuk kaLiyinilE kavithaigaL koNdu tharavENum - anththak
kAttu veLiyinilE ammA ninRan kAvaluRa vENum - enRan
pAttuth thiRaththAle ivvaiyaththaip pAliththida vENum
Meaning per word
Measure of land/(I)want/parAsakthi/Measure of land/want/ - there
In pillars/beautiful/good storey/pure coloured - in between that
Measure of land/one mansion/built and give/want - there
Near the well/coconut tree leaves/tender coconut
Ten twelve/coconut trees/beside/want - good
Pearl/lustre/like/moonlight/front/come/want - there
Shouting/cuckoo sound/little/in the ear/touch/want - my
Mind/to be pleased/well/young breeze/come/want
Song/to be united/there/one/chaste woman/want - (in) our
Union's joy/poems/bring/give/want - in that
Land expanse/mother/your protection/be/want - (by) my
Song's ability/this world/cherish/want
I happened to realize not everybody might be interested in the detailed word by word translation fo the poem going into grammatical and semantical details. So the same is available here as a PDF file for those interested.
(Detailed explanation in the next post)