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Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

The primordial rain and other poems – Gouthama Siddharthan

May 15, 2022 | Poetry | 3 comments

Translated from the Tamil by Dr. S. Vincent
The primordial rain

Music multiplies and spreads all over my land
In the obliterated dream of history explodes and rises primordial parai
I play with the rib bones of my great grandfather
Striking the fifth beat.

Trembles the earth, sheds down the dream
Among the fields where the rye was swaying
Rises your face as an epic
The stroke changes from the fifth to the third.

The movement of your silver anklet
Giving wisdom to my stick
The rye corn’s node the chillness bringing down
Climbing on the laughing cob head ripe
You come to me, “Where is my land, man?”

The burning rays of the sun bewildered for a moment
The rye field becomes a vast dancing arena
In the oyil dance of the rye corn
Rising stepping on the machete’s edge
The refrains breaking
Like the beat of the head rising high
The dance movements of my strained body extend as primordial gesture
As the stroke with head dancing in ecstasy
As the tongues of black music
Burning in time’s invisible moment
Like a red cradle ecstatically exults the thudi.

Our bodies intertwine and transform as primordial rain.

Parai – a circular drum, the musical instrument in Tamil Nadu used from ancient times, played kept in one hand with two sticks
Oyil – a kind of folk dance
Thudi – a drum, smaller in size


Three Flowers

Gentle ashen smoke flavoured tea in three cups
I am waiting for their arrival
In a new thinai without time and space

One cup is for me.
Another cup is for your Parra…
For your antipoem which says
‘poetry is one that improves a blank sheet’
The other is for Andal;
Who declared, ‘other lusts will not change.’

Acacia flowers have bloomed Parra
The fragrance of the scent of the flowers missing with tea
Makes us realize the chillness of the tea shop

The warmth of the ague changes
Whirling around goes the scent of mullai
There comes Andal.

The blooming mythreya flower in my shirt
Smelling sweet sparkles

Tea now becomes a warm drink

Author’s notes

Acacia- in the season when acacia blooms when he was enjoying the fragrance of the flowers Nicanor Parra’s love broke up. During every acacia season Parra would be reminded of her love.
Mullai- Andal would always be reminded of her love whenever she sees mullai flowers.
Mythreya- our love when parting in the classical dramatic form the chyrshenamupm flower ( mythreya) that I gave her

Translator’s notes

thinai- the landmass is of five different types or thinais according to Tamil tradion
Parra- Nicanor Parra is a Chilean poet, said to be the father of antipoetry
Andal- Vaishnavite devotional poet who has divine love for Kannan (Krishna)
mullai- a variety of jasmine


For the past 69 days my door has been shut

Don’t crash on and knock at it which is strong
My dear butterfly
Your body will be hurt your wings will be damaged

I cannot open the door
Poisonous germ has infiltrated into the air outside
The T V channels are constantly nagging

Don’t love your fellow being declare
Government statements
In this commotion gods have hidden themselves

For many more days has one to live in
8 by 12 feet room?
I have roamed about this room for the past one thousand years.

In every step of my feet that I tread
The land gets underneath
The moment I keep my first foot on my country’s politics
My second step on eight religions
The next on the putrid rotten caste system
On the fellow being with stings
On the systems that formed him
On the unwritten pages
On the boundless time
On the hope that it would dawn tomorrow
On a piece of the sky
On the sun, moon, stars, water bodies
land masses torn by boundary lines
The weapons of war exploding on land masses..
My steps go on walking.

Butterfly, you have come now.
Like an aircraft flying low opposite my window
Your shadow becomes huge.

Your wings are carrying limitless sky
On the wings spreading eternally I imprint my foot.

A miracle!
My land gets extended.
Under the blue-sky stretching end to end
In the field uninhabited by humans I saw that little girl
And the bud that has blossomed in her hands

Her flower handed over to me suddenly bursts.
At that moment penetrating my foot springs
A limitless tree.


Gouthama Siddharthan is a Tamil poet, essayist, translator and critic. He has published more than ten books on various subjects including political philosophy and politics in cinema. His works have been translated into many languages including Spanish and Italian. He is a journalist and editor. He has served on the board of editors of many reputed Tamil journals. He is the founding editor of journals including Unnatham and Thamizhi.

Dr. S. Vincent is a retired professor of English. He has translated more than thirty books from English to Tamil. He has brought out many collections of essays. He translates books from Tamil to English, including contemporary Tamil poems and the short stories of Kumarananthan. With Dr. Lawrence he has translated Veeramamunivar’s Paramartha Guruvin Kathai and Mayuram Vedanayakam Pillai’s Prathaba Mudaliar Charithiram (the first novel in Tamil) into English. Other important books translated by him into Tamil are Kafka’s Metamorphosis and other Stories, Paulo Coelho’s Fifth Mountain, and Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.


  1. Vanathu Antoni


  2. M.Elangovan

    Dr.S.Vincent has translated the poems of Goudhama Siddharthan with a keen sense of understanding the soul and spirit of the original poems.The aesthetic sensitivity has been translated with the correct choice of words bringing the praximity of the source and the target languages toghther.Congratulations Sir.

  3. Ipsita Sarangi

    Beautiful poems


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