Featured Poem

Glottophagy


Tamil words that lilt
soothing as a lullaby on a mother’s breath.
Their isaioli, their music
nourishing our uyir,                                                               (life)
marked on a stave
imagined a few millennia ago.
In whispers of promises they show themselves
as pandal                                                                              (songs)
and kathai                                                                             (stories)
and kavithai:                                                                         (poetry)
the Goddess’s gifts from her river throne.
Our generations were formed by their fluid naatiyam          (dance)
our voices modulated by their scripted sangheetham.        (hymns)
And when we dreamed,
our dreams erupted
in அs and இs and உs:
building blocks of a nation
now without a homeland,
a people now without a place.

And when in ’56
with the Sinhala Only Act
they tried to silence your innisai
the sweetness of your melody –
gag your uyiroli                                                                    (vowels)
and eradicate your meiyelluthal,                                          (consonants)
we took to the streets –
carrying your truth as our arms.
Warriors of the Tolkkaapiyam
on Galle Face Green,
paying with our blood for your right to be.
Oru naadillaathe aatkal
a people without a country,
in exile,
bearing the music of your beauty, still.

 

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About the translation:
» Read translator's notes
Poet:
Shash Trevett
Translator:
Shash Trevett
Original language:
Tamil
Issue:
2016 Number 1 - SOLD OUT - The Great Flight

About the author

Original poet

Shash Trevett

Shash Trevett, now living in York, came to the U.K. from Sri Lanka in 1987 to escape the civil war. For many years she stopped...

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Translator

Shash Trevett

Shash Trevett, now living in York, came to the U.K. from Sri Lanka in 1987 to escape the civil war. For many years she stopped...

» Read more

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