Waltz of The Cuckoo

On December 11, I heard this song of Subrahmanya Bharathi. It was aptly posted on his birthday on a friend’s facebook wall. Bharathi, in this poem, describes a cuckoo singing and goes on to sing the cuckoo’s song, as he interpreted it. It was intoxicating, sending me into a high. It is the famed “Kuyil Paattu” or “The Cuckoo’s Song”. Researchers have multiple interpretations about the poem; some say it is a creative work, some say it is a personal work and some say it has reflections on the freedom struggle. There is still no consensus on what the genius meant through this song. It is a series of 9 songs, of which the first 2 are the ones you heard. The theme continues, but I am a guy of limited capabilities. I have hence tried my hands at translating the first 2 songs only. The first song describes the cuckoo and its waltz and the second song proceeds to the cuckoo’s song itself. This translation, I hope, touches the feet of its original.



KAlai iLam parudhi veesum kadhirgaLilE

Neela kadalOr neruppedhirE sErmaNipOl

mOhanamAy jOthi porundhi muraithavarA

vEga thiraigaLinAl vEdha poruLpAdi

vandhu thazhuvum vaLam sAr karai udaiya

senthamizh thenpudhuvai ennum thirunagarin

mErkE, siru tholaivil mEvum oru mAn chOlai;

nArkONa thuLLa pala naththaththu vEdargaLum

vandhu paravai suda vAyndha perunchOlai; –

antha mAnchOlai adhanil Or kAlaiyilE,

vEdar vArAdha virundhu thirunALil,

pEdai kuyil ondru petpuravOr  vAnkiLaiyil

veetrirundhE aaN kuyilgaL mEni puLagamura,

Aatral azhivu pera, uLLathu anal peruga,

sOlai paravaiyellAm soozhndhu paravasamAi

kAlai kadanir karuththindri kettirukka,

innamudhai kAtrinidai engum kalandhadhu pOl,

minnal suvai dhAn melidhAi miga inidhAi

vandhu paravudhal pOl, vAnaththu mohiniyAL

indha uruvai eidhiththan Etram viLakkudhal pOl,

innisai theem pAdal isaiththirukkum vindhai thanai-

munni kavidhai veri mooNdE nanavazhiya

patta pagalilE pAvalarkku thOndruvathAm

nettai kanavin igazhchchiyilE- kaNdEn yAn

kanni kuyil anru kAvidaththE, pAdiyathOr

innisai pAttilE yAnum paravasamAi,

“manidha uru neengi kuyil uruvam vArAdhO?

Inidhu ik kuyilpEttai endrum piriyAmal,

kAdhaliththu koodi kaLiyudanE vAzhOmO?

nAdhaththu kanalinilE nammuyirai pOkkOmO?”

endru pala eNNi Ekkamura pAditrAl.

Andru naan kEttadhu amarar dhAn kEtpArO?

Kuk kuk koo vendru kuyil pAdum pAtinilE

thokka poruLLelAm thOndriyathen sindhaikkE

antha poruLai avanikku uraithithduvEn;

vindhai kuralukku, mEdhiniyeer enseivEn!


kAdhal, kAdhal, kAdhal,

kAdhal pOyir, kAdhal pOyir

sAdhal, sAdhal, sAdhal

1. aruLE aanal oLiyE;

oLibO mAyin, oLibO mAyin,

iruLE, iruLE, iruLE.

2. inbam, inbam, inbam;

Inbathirk kOr ellai kANil,

thunbam, thunbam, thunbam.

3.  naadham, naadham, naadham;

naadhathEyOr nalivu uNdAyin,

sEdham, sEdham, sEdham.

4. thALam, thALam, thALam;

thALath thirkOr thadai uNdAiyin,

kooLam, kooLam, kooLam.

5. paNNE, paNNE, paNNE;

paNNurk kEyOr pazhudhu uNdAyin,

maNNE, maNNE, maNNE.

6. pugazhE, pugazhE, pugazhE;

pugazhurk kEyOr purai uNdAiyin,

igazhE, igazhE, igazhE.

7. urudhi, urudhi, urudhi;

urudhik kEyOr udai uNdAiyin,

irudhi, irudhi, irudhi.

8. koodal, koodal, koodal;

koodi pinnE kumaran pOyil

vAdal, vAdal, vAdal.

9. kuzhalE, kuzhalE, kuzhalE;

kuzhalir keeral koodumkAlai,

vizhalE, vizhalE, vizhalE.



The emerging Sun’s assured rays sweep upon

The azure sea whose shores glisten like a flame of pearls.

The fast and never quiescent waves which hum the music of the Vedas

Are brilliantly lit up by the Sun and fondle the shores

Of a town, blessed by the Sun’s rays and Senthamizh’s grace,

Whose western nook has a beautiful mango grove;

Hunters from the four corners gather in droves

To shoot at birds in this alluring and large grove; –

In that mango grove on a bright, balmy day,

On a day of feast when no hunter came in the way,

There were cuckoos on trees, one of them a female

Which was the cynosure of all men and made

The male vigour redundant, burgeoned their inner flame,

And brought to her clan, who surrounded her, undying name,

Who listened, unmindful of their duties at dawn, to her

Sweet honey dipped song that mixed nectar with breeze,

Brought the taste of lightening making everyone freeze

And through the wafting lilt of this heavenly nightingale

In the guise of a cuckoo illuminating the spectacle,

The wonder of a mellifluous song being sung by her-

Brought an ecstasy of poetry overflowing

In broad daylight in every travelling bard

Seen in the realization of a tall dream- by Yours Truly

The maiden cuckoo’s poetry and music

Through the song made me exclaim in ecstasy,

“Would I not be able to discard this human body and take a cuckoo’s form?

To be one with this waltz of the cuckoo forever,

To love and be loved all life long, shouldn’t it be the norm?

In the fire of the divine music, should not this body be renounced?”

So I thought with an honest yearning.

What I heard that day, can The Immortals in heaven hear?

‘Kuk kuk koo’, the tune that the cuckoo sang brought

Unifying themes amidst ironies into my thought

That lofty poem I shall sing to this World at large;

Though her voice I cannot reproduce, Ye people, What shall I do!

Waltz of The Cuckoo

Love, love, love,

Upon its oblivion, upon its oblivion

Comes Death, death, death

1. Grace is another form of Lustre;

When lustre dies, when lustre dies

Comes Darkness, darkness, darkness.

2. Happiness, happiness, happiness;

When happiness sees darkness,

There ensues Pain, pain, pain.

3. Music, music, music;

When music is defiled,

It is Ruin, ruin, ruin.

4. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm;

When rhythm is ruined,

It results in Noise, noise, noise.

5. Waltz, waltz, waltz;

When waltz gathers rust,

It becomes Mud, mud, mud.

6. Fame, fame, fame;

When fame is besmirched by mud,

It brings Disrepute, disrepute, disrepute.

7. Grit, grit, grit;

When grit suffers disrepute,

It brings The End, end, end.

8. Union, union, union;

When the union ends and the Hero leaves,

It brings Sorrow, sorrow, sorrow.

9. Ye Flute, flute, flute;

When I see a scratch on your soul,

You do not Register, you do not register, you do not register!



Filed under Bharathi, Semmozhi

4 responses to “Waltz of The Cuckoo

  1. Beautiful. Wonderful Translation .. It makes me yearn to learn Tamizh

  2. Shravanthi

    Hats off to you man… Awesome work… Very well understood and translated… U have a gift.. :)… All the best.. 🙂

  3. Awesome! Your translation made me appreciate the poem more. I had the youtube link playing in the background as I read your translation. Loved several parts, like “uruthi” and “eruthi”!

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