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I've been reading (and poorly translating) Tamil poetry recently in lieu of actual productivity. Here's a very politicised piece from M. A. Nuhman; I shall refrain from commenting on the politics in question. Please note translation is very schematic and lacks intrinsic artistic merit, because I was mostly struggling to make sure I was accurately conveying information, here; I might return to this and try to write it in a way that is at least moderately appealing on its own terms.

புத்தரின் படுகொலை

நேற்று என் கனவில்
புத்தபெருமான் சுடப்பட்டிறந்தார்.
சிவில் உடை அணிந்த
அரச காவலர் அவரைக்கொன்றனர்.
யாழ் நுலகத்தின் படிக்கட்டருகே
அவரது சடலம் குருதியில் கிடந்தது!

இரவின் இருளில் அமைச்சர்கள் வந்தனர்.
"எங்கள் பட்டியலில் இவர் பெயர் இல்லை
பின் ஏன் கொன்றீர்?"
என்று சினந்தனர்

"இல்லை ஐயா
தவறுகள் எவையும் நிகழவே இல்லை
ஓர் ஈயினைக்கூடச்
சுடமுயாது போயிற்று எம்மால்
என்றனர் அவர்கள்

"சரி சரி
உடனே மறையுங்கள் பிணத்தை"
என்று கூறி அமைச்சர்கள் மறைந்தனர்.

சிவில் உடையாளர்
பிணத்தை உள்ளே இழுத்துச்சென்றனர்
தொண்ணுறாயிறம் புத்தகங்களினால்
புத்தரின் மேனியை மூடி மறைத்தனர்.

சிகாலோகவாத சூத்திரத்தினைக் கொழுத்தி
புத்தரின் சடலம் அஸ்த்தியானது
தம்ம பதமும்தான் சாம்பரானது

Last night, I dreamt that Buddha, lord, was dead:

The government police, dressed like civilians,
shot him, and killed him.
His body lay on the steps of the library

In the night, dark, the ministers raged:
'Why did you kill him? Here is our list
without his name on it.'

'No, sirs! Nothing wrong was done!
But we had to kill him:
while he was alive, we couldn't even kill a single fly.

'Fine. Fine. But get rid of him, at once!'
--and so the ministers vanished.

Then, the plainclothesmen dragged the corpse inside;
they piled books on him, ninety thousand;
lit the pyre with the Sigalovada Sutra1:

And watched the Lord Buddha's body burn,
With the Dhammapada.

& a very short piece by the modern poet Gnanakoothan, perhaps unrelated in subject matter:

எனக்கும் தமிழ்தான் மூச்சு
பிறர்மேல் அதைவிட மாட்டேன்

Even to me, Tamil's the very breath of life--
I won't breathe it down someone else's neck.

A possible alternative, slightly different in tone:
Although even I think Tamil's the very breath of life,
I'm not breathing it down anyone else's neck!

1: 'சிகாலோகவாத': I assume it is this.

(is this a comment?)

Date: 2011-03-15 02:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andamanatee.blogspot.com
Can you provide transliteration for the Tamil (or point me to a website that will do it for us, because I couldn't find one on the Internet -- I found some Windows programs)?

(Note to self: feature a link to the Russian transliteration site I just found prominently in my blog.)

Re: (yes it is!)

Date: 2011-03-15 05:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andamanatee.blogspot.com
Thanks much! The Russian one makes some odd choices (like not bothering to do anything to ь or ъ, or rendering й as j or y depending on which side of a vowel it's on) so I'll keep the link to the other thing for now.

I like the translations, by the way, especially the second one. In the first one I'm confused by the word 'dark'. Right now, after you stumble over it and try to figure out why it's there, it sounds like it's saying "oh, the night was dark, by the way -- in case you couldn't guess." I'm assuming whatever was in the original had some sort of connotation that didn't come through -- you should think about how to make it do that, or scrap the 'dark' entirely.

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