Friday poem: 'What He Said'

15 June 2016

By Cempulappeyanirar
'poet of the red earth and pouring rain'


What could my mother be
to yours? What kin is my father
to yours anyway? And how
did you and I meet ever?
But in love
our hearts have mingled
like red earth and pouring rain.

 
From Kuruntokai, a classical Tamil poetic work. Translation by A K Ramanujan, from The Interior Landscape: Classical Tamil Love Poems

This poem was chosen by award-winning poet, artist and documentary film-maker, Imtiaz Dharker.

'I've always admired the way this poem uses one simple, strong image from nature, which speaks the truth about love across centuries and across geography. Anyone, in any time, will recognise this idea of the elements mingling. When I first read it, it felt exactly like love.'

'What He Said' was written around 2000 years ago. The history of Tamil poetry is marked by many anonymous contributions, and traditionally the poet is identified based on a distinct phrase from their work. 'Cempulappeyanirar' literally means 'red earth and pouring rain'.

Imtiaz Dharker will be accompanying poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy on her Shore to Shore poetry tour of the UK, which begins in Falmouth this Sunday. 
 
 

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