The poetical works of Tiruloka Sitaram with translation and notes

The book under review titled ‘The Poetical Works of Tiruloka Sitaram with Translation and Notes’ has 55 poems of the great Tamil poet Tiruloka Sitaram duly translated into English by Sekkizhar Adi-p-podi Dr TNRamachandran.

Tiruloka Sitaram was born to Lokanatha Iyer and Meenakshi Sundarammal on 1-4-1917 in a small town called Thondaimanthurai in the Trichy district of Tamilnadu, India. His father passed away in his third year and his uncle raised him. His mother tongue was Telugu. He married Rajamani at age 10 at age 19.

He began his life as a priest. He was very interested in Tamil literature. He went to Ramasami padayachi, a great Tamil scholar and learned all the Tamil epics like Kamba Ramayanam and Bharatham.

He began to compose his own wonderful poems. He started publishing a Tamil magazine under the name India Valiban and had written articles under the moniker Mandahasan. He later used his own name for all his writings.

He was very attracted to the poems of the great poet Subramanya Bharathi. He made it a habit of his not to go a day without reading or quoting at least a few lines from Bharatiyar.

The bond was so deep that he was assumed to be a spiritual son of Bharathi even though he had never seen the great poet when he passed away in 1921.

He went to the house of Chellammal Bharathi, Bharathi’s wife, during her last days. Chellammal breathed his last in her lap.

As a journalist, he founded a magazine by the name of Sivaji and the poems and articles published there attracted the Tamil world. She lived only 56 years and breathed for the last time on 8-23-1973.

His famous poem Gandarva Ganam describes the dawn, the evening in powerful words.

The translation is like this:

The day dawned on the peak of Pothika

And under the sprint that lay a crescent

It was the jagged mountain-cave

His mammoth mouth gaping open

‘Twixt whose teeth, solemn and devoted

The flood flowed over the plain.

We can compare these lines with Coleridge’s Kubla Khan:

“.. That deep romantic abyss that leaned

Over the green hill.”

The evening comes like this:

The hasty Sun rushed headlong

And hit the spring with millions of arrows;

Vaporescent foamy foam

In the atoms it rose like a marvelous bow

who watched with great delight,

The hunting bow on his shoulder loosened.

Here, the line ‘vaporescent foamy foam; can be compared with Milton’s

‘When the fumes shot

impresses the air

This is just one example to explain how Tiruloka Sitaram’s poetic mind explores nature.

We have fifty-five such wonderful poems duly translated into English.

The book is beautifully printed in such a way that one would not leave without reading all the poems.

The translator TNRamachandran has compared many of the poems with those of Shakespeare, and concludes: “The thoughts of Donne and Coleridge are less powerful than those of Shakespeare, who, however, finds a match in Tiruloka Sitaram.”

We may see some more poems by this great poet in our next article.

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