Thursday, June 10, 2010

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Echo of Moonlight

The Echo of Moonlight

Parampu mountain.

Pari had died,

and the sun had vanished in the darkness.

Ankavai and Cankavai

were refugees.

They had fallen

to the “royal drums beating victory”

and on their hill, on a narrow path

that seemed to be filled with the sorrow

of their downcast moonlike faces

Pari’s daughters walked. Coming down

from the hill, the moonlight itself seemed to walk slowly

to accompany Kapilar, who had grown so old.

As they walked,

growing weary

and weak

whiteness flowed over everything --

the moonlight,

the hair of Kapilar,

Pari’s daughters

and the good life of Parampu.

With reverence Kapilar entrusted

Pari’s daughters whose lives were broken

to Auvai and disappeared.

The journey continued.

Pari’s daughters walked with Auvai

and with all the village

so poor their only food was gruel,

and the moon stood, hesitating, and went with them.

As if her long life

granted by Atiyaman’s nelli fruit

were approaching its end,

Auvai hurried.

Sealing the marriages by pouring water,

she gave Pari’s daughters

to the men who had destroyed their lives on Parampu mountain,

Pari’s daughters who, like her,

made Tamil.

If only she had given them

to the families of men so poor

that, late in giving taxes,

they have only gruel or porridge to pay,

Pari’s soul would have rejoiced.

That day, in the white light of that moon,

there was Parampu mountain,

and the drums beating victory,

and Ankavai and Cankavai

who became slaves in the harem of kings

and cried in pain -- and now

on this day, in the white light of this moon,

their echoes still resound.

Original poetry in Tamil by S. Vilvaratnam
Translated by: George L. Hart