Sunday, April 11, 2021

Bharatiyar Poem Nenju Porukkuthilaiye

Subramaniya Bharathi, poet laureate of Tamil, wrote this poem a hundred years back.


What he said then, remains true even today.


Given below is my attempt at translating Bharatjiyar, in verse. Tamil Pundits may please excuse any shortcomings in the translation.




POEM: Nenju Porukkuthilaiye

On the plight of my countrymen

By: Subramaniya Bharathi,


Oh! My heart cannot bear to see,

The state of these misguided people,

They are afraid of everything,

Fear is what every day kills them!


There are ghosts staying in the trees,

On top of houses, in the lakes -

These thoughts torment their waking dreams,

Feed the fears that keep them awake!


A thousand miseries they fear,

From wizards lurking everywhere,

The threat of witchcraft's always near,

The threat of Black Magic is real!


They praise all the rulers of the world,

For the gifts they receive from them,

Knowing well the politics behind,

Their self-seeking munificence!


They run at sight of a soldier,

Even a single man with a gun,

Cower in their houses in fear,

They let cowardice rule their lives!


They are always subservient,

Obsequious to every passer-by,

Stand with hands folded and backs bent,

Fear, not respect, is what makes them bow!


Oh! My heart cannot bear to see,

The state of these misguided people,

Are their divisions few in number?

In thousand ways they divide themselves!


A fiction of five-headed snake,

Invents the father to sow discord,

The son rises in righteous rage,

It's six heads, or it's off with yours!


Uncaring for the real Wisdom,

Or what the scriptures have to say,

They heed fake priests of a new God,

Attack those with whom they used to stay!


The fall prey to their false prayers,

Chanted in order to lure them –

Claim that only their God is real,

Turn upon their brethren, abuse them!


This, my heart cannot bear to see,

But I can't turn away in disgust,

They're struggling for their daily bread,

Unknowing, being ground into the dust!


Used to their endless privations,

They are starving themselves to death,

Suffering from a myriad ailments,

They refuse to support themselves!


Like the blind men who are helpless,

They choose to follow and be led,

Walk into the traps laid for them,

By those who lead with bad intent!


In this wealthy country of mine,

Rich in its arts and all its skills,

Is there no way I can help them,

Who live like homeless animals?


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