Gory Tamil poems

The old woman’s shoulders
were dry, unfleshed,
with outstanding veins;
her low belly
was like a lily pad.

When people said
her son had taken fright,
had turned his back on battle
and died,

she raged
and shouted,
” If he really broke down
in the thick of strife,
I’ll slash these breasts
that gave him suck,”

and went there
sword in hand.

Turning over body after fallen body,
she rummaged through the blood-red field
till she found her son,
cut, in four pieces,

and she rejoiced
more than on the day
she gave him birth.

nacceLLaiyAr kAkkaipADiniyAr vide Ramanujam

Old tamil society was a heroic and gory one, full of cattle raids leading to skirmishes and full fledged battles. They were fought with spears, arrows and swords with no ritual show, but plain ferocity.

Poetess auvaiyAr sings of the fall of her patron, a tamil war lord atiyamAn neDumAn a~Nchi:
“Pointing at the enemy
the tongues of lances,
new-forged and whetted,
urging soldiers forward
with himself at the head,
in a skirmish of arrows and spears,
cleaving though an oncoming wave of foes,
forcing a clearing,
he had fallen
in that space
between the armies,
his body hacked to pieces.”

auvaiyAr singing on her dead warlord adiyamAn neDumAn Anchi

“He gave us
all the flesh
on the bones.
where is he now?

wherever spear and arrow flew,
he was there.
where is he now?

with his hands scented
with lemon grass,
he caressed my hair
smelling of meat.
where is he now?
The vEl that pierced his chest
pierced at once
the wide eating bowls
of great and famous minstrels,

and, dimming the images in the eyes
of men he sheltered,
it went right through the subtle tongues
of poets
skilled in the search
for good words.

Where is he now?

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