சோலை மலரொளியோ நினது சுந்தரப் புன்னகை தான்
நீலக் கடலலையே நினது நெஞ்சின் அலைகளடீ
கோலக் குயிலோசை உனது குரலின் இனிமையடீ
வாலைக் குமரியடீ கண்ணம்மா மருவக்காதல் கொண்டேன்
sOlai malaroLiyO ninathu sunththarap punnagai thAn
nIlak kadalalaiyE ninathu nenjcin alaigaLadI
kOlak kuyilOsai unathu kural inimaiyadI
vAlaik kumariyadI kaNNammA maruvak kAthal koNdEn
Meaning per word
Garden/flower's light/your/beautiful smile?
blue sea's waves/your/heart's waves
Graceful koel/sound/your voice/sweetness
young virgin/kaNNammA/charmed love I got
Word by word translation
sOlai - A flower garden. This has to be contrasted with the word thOttam (தோட்டம்) that can mean a garden, an orchard or a grove.
malar - Flower. Rather a full blown blossom.
oLiyO - Light? The root word is oLi. An interesting aspect of the Tamil language is that the word oLi (ஒளி) meaning light also means hiding as in the verb oLiththal (ஒளித்தல்).
ninathu - your. The root is the word nin (நின்) to which the expletive athu (அது) is added for metrical purposes. This meaning of athu is not to be confused with the pronoun meaning 'that'.
sunththarap - Beautiful. The actual word is sunththaram (சுந்தரம்) which with the suffix lost becomes a qualifier.
punnagai - Gentle smile. The root of this word is nagai (நகை) meaning smile. The word nagai also means a jewel possibly hinting that the best adornment in this world is a smile.
thAn - Intensifier. Not to be confused with the first person pronoun spelt the same way.
nIlak - Blue. This word come from nIlam (நீலம்) meaning the blue colour. The loss fo the final 'm' (ம்) makes it an adjective.
kadalalaiyE - Waves of the sea. This is formed from the two words kadal (கடல்) and alai (அலை). The actual word should be kadalinalai (கடலினலை) with the 'in' (இன்) acting as the vERRumai urubu (வேற்றுமை உருபு). The non-appearance of the 'in' (இன்) conjunction is called as vERRumaith thogai (வேற்றுமைத் தொகை). The yE (யே) suffix at the end is an intensifier.
ninathu - your. As explained above.
nenjcinalaigaLadI - Heart's waves. The word nenjcu (நெஞ்சு) refers both to the heart and the bosom. The conjunction 'in' appears clearly in this word.
kOlak - Graceful. kOlam (கோலம்) has multiple meanings like form, appearance, the geometrical patterns drawn in front of a Tami house (referred to as rangOli in North India), graceful, beautiful, etc. The meaning graceful appears most suited here.
kuyil - Koel or the Indian cuckoo. The koel is to Indian poets what the nightingale is to English poets.
Osai - Sound.
unathu - Your. This is another form of the second person possessive pronoun.
kuralinimaiyadI - Sweetness of your voice. Another example of vERRumaith thogai with kural (குரல்) and inimai (இனிமை) joined by the absent 'in' conjunction.
vAlaikkumariyadI - A combination of the words vAlai (வாலை) and kumari (குமரி). vAlai refers to a girl who is very young, one who has possibly not attained puberty yet. Kumari means a vrigin.
kaNNammA - The name of the lover as explained in the previous section.
maruvakkAthal - Charmed love. This is a combination of maruva (மருவ) and kAthal (காதல்). maruva has many meanings like confused, modified, etc. It comes from the root maru (மரு) which means to change in form. The word is used here in similar connotation with maynggu (மயங்கு) meaning to be allured.
koNdEn - I had. This word comes from the root verb koLLal (கொள்ளல்) meaning to have.
The very first line of this stanza presents Barathi to us as a perceptive poet. A flower like lotus, dahlia, chrysanthemum or marigold brings to our mind the idea of colours. Other flowers like rose or jasmine suggest fragrance. But to see light in a flower is just amazing. மலரிலே மணமல்ல, நிறமல்ல, ஒளி கண்டவன் பாரதி. But why light in a flower especially here? That comes when we see the complete simile. The light of a flower he asks is it your beautiful smile kaNNammA? Close your eyes and imagine how kaNNammA's smile would be. Radiant? Perhaps. But if Her smile had a glow would it be like that of a thousand resplendent suns? Nay, says Barathi, it is that of a flower, so subtel that you wouldn't notice it. Also observe the change in the subject as well. The first stanza spoke of kaNNammA's physical beauty in terms of Her eyes, Her sari. But here Barathi gently moves into more subtle aspects of Her beauty.
Now from the wonderous exclamations made in the previous lines, Barathi changes into a more assertive tone. He says the waves of kaNNammA's heart are that of the seas. The nenjcin alaigaL can refer to the waves in kaNNammA's heart (thoughts) and also to the waves of Her bosom. However, since Barathi has finished Her physical beauty in the previous stanza, the first interpretation seems more appropriate.
The next line shows how exact Barathi is in the usage of words. Why does Barathi say the sound of the cuckoo (kOlak kuyilOsai) and not the song of the cuckoo (kOlak kuyilisai)? One of his famous poem anthologies is kuyil pAttu (குயில் பாட்டு) meaning the Song of the Koel. He does not even say it is the voice of the cuckoo here. It is plain sound. So why does he say the sound of the koel here? Because however sweet it maybe, when compared to kaNNammA's voice, that is what it is, a sound.
The last lines are a declaration of love. The love declared here is not the spiritually supreme love of ninnai saraNadainththEn (நின்னை சரணடைந்தேன்) or the highly mature love of kARRu veLiyidai (காற்று வெளியிடை). It is the fresh and virgin love of one young heart with another. This is all the more emphasized by the detail of kaNNammA's attractiveness. This is the love that is the result of gAndhdham (காந்தம்). The entire poem shows a fever, a burning passion that is characteristic of the mad first love that strikes a young heart, somewhere between the age of fifteen and seventeen. The fever that burns the tender heart like flames swallowing spring's blossoms. This love is the love of youth towards itself.
When the young man stands in front of the mirror and sees his tender moustache, the arumbu mIsai (அரும்பு மீசை) there is a gentle admiration that blooms along with the moustache. So too with the maiden who sees her first pimples. Now, when this young man and maiden see each other, their own hearts act as a mirror reflecting the budding youth in each other's body and mind. Their minds leap with the joy of mutual recognition. This is the love that helps the bees and the buds of spring recognize each other. This is the love that is primal to the very universe, the simple nascent love that springs from seeing your own self reflected in the other person. This is the love that sustains the very universe, for when God sees His creation He sees His own youth reflected in Her. And in Her nenjcin alaigaL, in the waves of Her heart sees Her youth and beauty reflected in Her Creator. And thus does life become immortal.
(To be contd.,)