Kannamaa, Where are you?

Mahakavi Bharathi (Timeline: 1882-1921) has been the inspiration for modern Tamizh poets through the 20th and 21st centuries and he will remain so till the Language lasts. This is my all time favourite poem of his where he describes his love for Kannamma. Kannamma was a pet of Bharathi. He was a devotee of Lord Krishna, KaNNan in Tamizh. He gave a feminine form to KaNNan and called “her” KaNNamma. He imagined her to be his Deity, Mother, Wife and the Love of his life, Daughter and in this case, his crush. Yes, he was audacious 100 years back to talk about his infatuation to a woman. The man was fearless. But this is not the only reason to like him or this poem. The lyrical quality or the imagery he studs his poem with is to be enjoyed.

The poem:

Suttum vizhi chudar dhaan – kaNNammaa
Sooriya chandiraro?

Vatta kariya vizhi – kaNNammaa
Vaanak karumai kollo?

Pattu karuneela – pudavai
Padhitha nalvayiram

Natta nadunisiyil – theriyum

Solai malar oLiyo – unadhu
Sundharapunnagai dhaan!

Neela kadalalaye – unadhu
Nenjin alaigaLadi!

Kolak kuyil oasai – unadhu
Kuralin inimayadi!

Vaalai kumariyadi – kaNNammaa!
Maruvak kaadhal koNdaen.

Saathiram pesugiraai – kaNNammaa!
Saathiram yedhukkadi?

Aathiram kondavarke – kaNNammaa
Saathiram undoadi!

Moothavar sammadhiyil – vadhuvai
MuraigaL pinbu seivom;

Kaathiruppenoadi? – idhu paar,
Kannaththu muththam ondRu


Kannamaa, is your sparkling gaze the sun and the moon?
Are your round pupils; the dark skies that make men swoon?
The diamonds draped in your navy blue saree from Eden;
Are but stars from the midsummer night’s heaven!
The dazzle of a flower in the paradise;
Is but the allure of your smile!
The deep azure ocean’s unending waves;
Are but your heart’s lingering waves!
The cuckoo’s song is in fact the sweetness of your voice!
And on you maiden, I am infatuated!
Oh Kannamaa! You talk about rules!!!
Rules, are for ignorant fools!
Marry you I will, for that the elders we will seek.
Right now, will I be waiting for a peck on the cheek?

He describes her eyes to be the moon, sun and the black skies… He then describes her saree to be the midnight sky, the flower’s brightness is her smile, the cuckoo’s sweet voice is hers, the ocean’s waves are her heart’s waves.

He hints at her being his Universe; from comparing her eyes to the sun and the moon and her saree to the sky. The Universe is her for this smitten poet. The flower’s brightness is her smile, not the other way round like most other poets would put it. He then says to the probably teenage girl (Vaalai Kumari) that he’s infatuated (Maruva Kadhal). That must raise eyebrows now, not to think about his era. Yes, KaNNamma would’ve raised her eyebrows for Bharathi to see the Sun and the moon. He’s all the more likely to go bonkers. And yes, she would’ve asked him to behave and told him about the rigidity of the system (Saathiram). He’s fearless. He brushes it aside and says to hell with rules. They are for short sighted people. Not for him and certainly not for KaNNamma whose sight is not short, but in fact a representation of the Sun and the Moon. How can she talk about rules like a laywoman? He promises to wed her by the rules she demands he follow, but is now waiting for a kiss on the cheek.

Where are you KaNNamma?



Filed under Bharathi, Semmozhi

6 responses to “Kannamaa, Where are you?

  1. Remarkable work!! How inspiring to see a translation of that quality!! I am sharing this with all my friends and my family members! Do keep the amazing work going!! Let the genius of Barathiyar reach everyone in the world!!



  2. SU.RAVI

    நல்ல முயற்சி!விழி வேறு-விழிச்சுடர் வேறு. விழி வானக் கருமையானாலும், விழிச் சுடர் ஒளிபொருந்தியது. இந்தக் கலாரசனை படைத்த கவிஞனுக்குக் காத்திருக்கப் பொறுமை ஏது? அதனால்தான் உடனடிக் கன்னத்து முத்தம்! வாழ்க. மேலும் பல கவிதைகளுக்காகக் காத்திருக்கிறேன்!
    -சு.ரவி 26/07/10

  3. Nice attempt.

    There was blog translating Bharathi which I used to follow and comment on.
    This particular poem was written about at length. You may be interested in it:

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4

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