During my weekends, I have recently taken a shine for classsical poetry in my native language – Tamil. The set of poems that I intend to talk about in this post is with love as a theme and comes in two collections of poem called Aganaanooru (lit. the collection of 400 verses of the heart) and Kurunthokai (lit. the smaller collection – compared to Aganaanooru, where verses are more than 8 lines – this collection has typically 4 to 8 lined verses).
About The Poem & The Language
Some of these poems date back 2000 to 3000 years according to some people. I don’t know if this is a fact though – having become a minority population in several countries across South and South East Asia and facing a genocidal Government in at-least one country, the population has been subjected to a lot of myths and political propaganda in recent times.
Tamil is one of the classical languages that is spoken even today – to the extent that some of the words in these poems can be understood even today. It is a gold mine of ancient history, flora and fauna besides being a collection of poems that describe the lifestyle of love-struck individuals of that time.
Heart Growing Fonder
A recurring theme in the poems is about the emotional problems of a lover and his beau on account of separation – voluntary, forced and for vocational requirements. This is narrated in the words of the lady, the lover, their friends, their valets / maids and even parents and townsfolk in some cases.
In today’s fully connected world, I wonder if any of this can be relevant and whether the heart knows enough separation to grow fonder!
Quite often you come across verses where the lover who has gone away to another town to make some money for setting up his family sends messages back to his lover and vice versa. For example, we have cases of guys who send these messages through birds – we surmise that it must be some species they have seen in their distant hometown in the past and hence became homesick.
While the poetry can have an appeal at an emotional level, I don’t think we can imagine a youngster who separates from his love to be pining and sending messages of these nature – that too through birds!
One would expect the guy to be resourceful enough to get to a phone and call his lover up and say, “Wazzup!”
Another theme that comes up often is that of minor tiffs between lovers. Typically, it could be on account of a late arrival to a meeting point or the girl hiding back her love owing to certain societal controls.
Once again, this appears to be impractical in today’s world – certainly not on account of late arrival at a meeting point (while, unfortunately, some part of society in some places is still restrictive of a woman expressing her affections). It would be an act of a minute to make a phone call and inform of the delay thereby avoiding the problems to come.
Another less prominent theme is about the guy going astray and visiting other women. The lady is shown to wait patiently and when the guy does realize his mistake and comes back, forgiving him in an instant and taking him back in her arms!
This too is impractical in today’s world. If the person was someone in position, there would be a scandal and trial by media immediately. Of course, there is greater drama now around these and, rightfully, a modern woman would not put up with infidelity. But the poetry is gone completely from all this.
The OMG! Moment
What have I done? Technology has killed Poetry in love-life today. As an Engineer who has been associated with communications industry in the last 25 years, I have been furthering and accelerating this cause.
Perhaps, a new genre of poems arising out of new emotional situations would come up and, maybe, a 1000 years later, people will scoff at the poems that we come up now…