Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. Robert Frost

In this series of blog posts on Tamil poetry, we will look at the works of different poets beginning with Subramaniya Bharathi.

The word that comes to my mind when I think of Subramaniya Bharathi is fireball. His poetry reflected the fire burning in his soul. His powerful words expressed his strong beliefs on causes that mattered to him whether it was the liberation of his country, social inequalities, freedom of women or the sheer beauty of the Tamil language.

In the poem “Yaamarindu Mozhigalile” he exhorts us to seek pride in our language and our poets not parochially but to embrace its uplifting nature. Here is the English translation of the poem.

Of all the languages that we know
There is none as Tamil sweet;
Yet the world’s taunt, like ignorant beasts
We lie sunk in defeat.
What use to glory in that name
And live obscurely here
Instead of making that sweet tongue ring
Like a bell far off and near?

Of all the poets that we know
We see none who compare
With Kanban, Valluvan, Ilango –
Not boast this, but truth bare!
Dumb, deaf and blind we live now –
Listen, let us make it our aim
For our own sake from the house-tops
The greatness of Tamil to proclaim.

We must translate into Tamil
Great works of foreign lands,
While deathless works in Tamil
Are written by living hands;
No use in secret among ourselves
Repeating a stale old story –
The test of all true greatness is
That outsiders hail our glory.

Then only will our words ring bright
When brightness within one can find;
The arts in flood will surely release
Those sunk in pits and blind.
Raised up they will regain their sight
And status against odds;
Let us then taste this nectar of Tamil
And tasting it become as gods!
[‘Poems of Subramania Bharati, A Selection Translated by P.S.Sundaram’, Vikas Publishing House Pvt.Ltd., copyright P.S.Sundaram]

Yaamarindu Mozhigalile” Ragamalika – Chitra Srikrishna(vocal) supported by Aditi Devarajan(violin)


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