Occupy Poetry

The THIRUK-KURAL on not offending the Great: Canto 90 - K899 and K900

BY T. Wignesan

THIRUK-KURAL on not offending the Great*: Periyaaraip Pilaiyaamai - Canto 90, K899 and K900

[* The "Great" here are indifferently the King or other learned and wise people whom the King ought to respect and fear. In this canto, Thiru-Valluvar repeats himself (though elegantly, cf. K899 & K900) - unless it were for the purpose of reinforcing the idea of the weak who dare pit themselves against the strong and powerful - and contrariwise the strong and cruel meet the same fate of ruin if they incurred the wrath of the noble and virtuous-minded. It is evident nothing anti-authoritarian was permitted or conceivable in his time. Yet, reflect on how Lenin outlived the Tsars; Solzhenytsin and Pasternak - Stalin and his successors, just as George Washington - the British Imperial Crown; Vietnam veterans - Nixon; Li Xiaobo - thanks to the Nobel Committee and other campaigners like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International who would shut an eye to wanton persecution within Western democracies - Xi of the Peoples Republic; the German Jews - Hitler; but NOT the one-man (Sri Lankan) opposition leader Jeyaretnam in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore.]

K899: eenthiya kolkaiyaar siirin idaimurinththu
veenthanum veenthu kedum

When blazes forth the wrath of men of lofty fame,
Kings even fall from high estate and perish in the flame. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
If those of exalted vows burst in a rage, even (Indra) the king will suffer a sudden loss and be entirely ruined. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

Should the virtuous in lofty positions become angry, even the king (of kings) will fall from high heaven. (Transl. T. Wignesan)

K900: iranthuamaintha saarpudaiyar aayinum uyyaar
siranththuamaintha siiraar cherin

Though all-surpassing wealth of aid the boast,
If men in glorious virtue great are wrath, they're lost. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
Though in possession of numerous auxiliaries, they will perish who are exposed to the wrath of the noble whose penance is boundless. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

No way the powerful can avoid downfall should they offend and incur the wrath of the noble-minded greats. (Transl. T. Wignesan)

© T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017

T. Wignesan


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