Kalavu Iyal

On

the

KALAVU
IYAL

of the

TAMIL
POETS

of the

SANGAM AGE


Wisdom hath builded her house,
She hath hewn out her seven pillars :
She hath killed her beasts ;
She hath mingled her wine :
She hath also furnished her table ;
She hath sent forth her maidens :
She crieth upon the highest places of the city,
Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither.
The Book of Proverbs

Strophe

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth:
For thy love is better than wine
The Song of Solomon

Let me recompose the most esteemed treatise
Of our ancient Tamil poets,
Into which is pour’d a thousand worthy love-opines.

Let us sing upon the sacred love-meeting,
The marriage-system of the celestials
Who find copious delights in the melodies of the lyre.

The Lover & his Lady-Love meet in equal status,
Excelling in individual talents,
Enhancing each other’s virtuous qualities.

When the look glimmers reciprocal,
Signs of love-making soon shall take place;
So say the Poets…

As modesty & simplicity in the act of love
Belong to the female nature : her amorousness
Shown only thro’ gestures developed by the Code of Love

In the course of their amorous advancement
Lovers express the greater passions known,
Fate-exclaiming, affirming their bond’s assurances


 

Antistrophe

With our lessons as a pretext we abandoned ourselves entirely to love… My hands strayed oftener to her bosom than to the pages… our desires left no stage of lovemaking untried, & if love could devise something new, we welcomed it
Peter Aberlard

Excepting three days of menses
There will be no day without a love-meeting :
Even during this time the tryst is not forbidden

The act of fixing the meeting-place
Can be night’s argyrodite or the glint of day;
…So say the Poets of the Sangam…

The day-meeting-place will be outside the house,
For even in storms leaf-flowing tree-bowers caress us
The way to which woods must be known by the Lady-Love

Although she may ignore him on arrival,
In the Lady-Love’s eyes there trills no look
Which cannot reveal her emphatic love

Moving closely with one another & the physical touch,
Connecting to love’s enjoyment, wailing upon separation;
This is adoration’s’ ranunculus meeting

When the Lover leaves his Lady-Love:
Bemoaning his departure she will sigh after him,
Being grieved at the loss of her mind’s serenity


 

Epode

If this is Odysseus in truth, then we shall soon know each other better than well by certain private signs between us two, hidden from the rest of the world.
Homer

From the act of love-making springs ardent desire,
Brooding & pining: from pining springs
Suspicion of knowing the love affairs of others

During the period of secret love,
No play or festival the lover will enjoy
Without his lady-love

When the lady-love prattles her dreams of love-excess
To her medicean maid-friend, their once secret love
Becomes the hot gossip-topic, soon, among the public.

When the great secret is revealed to a foster-mother,
She is said to be the mother
…So say the Poets of the Sangam Summer!

Thinking she has not the wisdom to reckon her partner,
The mother & foster-mother may approach the wise-people
To clear millstone doubts hung about the love-choice

The way of marriage is of two kinds:
The marriage after the secret love is known
& the marriage before it is known.

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