Cerise Press, Summer , Vol. 2 Issue 4 review of Give, Eat, and Live: Poems of Avvaiyar (translated by Thomas H. Pruiksma) by Akshay Ahuja. PDF | On Jan 30, , Kalaiarasan Spk and others published UNDYING MORAL FROM THE CLASSICAL TAMIL POET AVVAIYAR. Give, Eat, and Live is a selection of poems translated from the 12th century Tamil poet Avvaiyar, arguably one of the most important female poets in Tamil s.
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Avvaiyar – Wikipedia
Give, Eat, and Live: Pruiksma Red Hen Press, So it can be startling to encounter an unknown work that speaks directly to us with this lost confidence. Here is a poem by the 12th century Tamil poet Avvaiyar, in Thomas H. As long as they can, the wise help Even those who do wrong. Till the day they chop it down, a tree grants People shade.
There is a sense of authority here usually found only in sacred texts. These poems are plain and durable, suitable for everyday use. They deal with the basics: Good done To a man who lacks gratitude and sense Is a pitcher cast upon rocks. The stories that exist about her life are apparently unreliable. One can learn a few things from reading the poems: Her warnings, it seems, have not scared many people away.
Many adults, the translator tells us, never forget them — not just because of early training, I suspect, but because they are worth remembering. Look at the two poems quoted above, for example.
Should you try to help apparently bad people or not? Read the poems again, though, and the dissonance becomes more complex. A tree does not have a choice in granting people shade. Is the poet implying that wisdom consists in cultivating this higher indifference, this refusal to discriminate between individual merits, even in the face of the axe?
These reflections grow fruitfully as you absorb more of the verses. Eventually I saw that Avvaiyar was not merely confused, but that, like all great artists, she was giving us tools to think about how to resolve these apparent contradictions, or exist happily between them. This is the same sort of education that collections of folklore once gave to the communities that created them: The water that runs from the well to the rice Also waters the wayside grass.
If on our old earth There walk one upright man, for his sake Everyone receives rain. I do not know a single character of Tamil, so I cannot judge the accuracy of avvvaiyar translations. Further, although this may seem like faint praise, Give, Eat, and Live is the only set of translations easily available in English.
Since Avvaiyar strikes me as a poet of world stature, whose best verses merit a place beside the Tao Te Ching or the DhammapadaPruiksma deserves our thanks for giving poeme to us in any form at all.
If you subtract the facing Tamil pages, there are only about twenty pages of poetry. But Avvaiyar has already written a response to my petty avvaiyat. Magnolias have large petals; honeysuckles, a sweet fragrance. The sea is vast Yet cannot clean hands. Beside it, the little spring Yields sweet water. Among her works are the Atticuti, an alphabetical acrostic still used to teach children, and the quatrains in the Muturai and the Nalvali, which are translated in this poe,s.
His other books include A Feast for the Tongue: Notes from a Conversation, co-authored with the artist C. He currently lives on Vashon Island.
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