Sunday, June 20, 2010

What He Said - Kapilar

One objective of this blog has been to show how the need for lovers to write about experiences is both universal and timeless.  Today's selection, dating from roughly 1800 - 2000 years ago and from the Tamil-speaking region now covering present-day Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and southern India, does both.  It comes from the Eight Anthologies (circa 1st - 3rd century), the earliest recorded Tamil-language poetryKapilar, the author, is considered one of the great Sangam "school" poets, well-regarded in his society, and a poet in the court of the king.  This poem is an "interior" poem, so-called as they are "...dramatic monologues in which five landscapes (hill, seashore, forest, arable land, desert) and their contents (birds, beasts, trees, tribes, characteristic arts and occupations) correspond to the phases of love (first union, anxious waiting, infidelity, elopement, patient waiting and reunion)".  These would contrast to "exterior" poems that were meditations "... and sometimes grim elegies".  One does not need to be in that time and place to appreciate the poet's feelings about the secrecy of a clandestine love.
What He Said

My love is a two-faced thief.
In the dead of night
she comes like the fragrance
of the Red-Speared Chieftain’s forest hills,
to be one with me.

And then, she sheds the petals
of night’s several flowers,
and does her hair again
with new perfumes and oils,
to be one with her family at dawn

with a stranger’s different face.
                                                                            Kapilar - Tamil

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