Thursday, January 08, 2009

Prandial Plaint - Vikram Seth

My love, I love your breast. I love your nose.
I love your accent and I love your toes.
I am your slave. One word, and I obey.
But please don’t slurp your coffee in that way.

~ Vikram Seth, All you who sleep tonight

உன் முலைகளைக் காதலிக்கிறேன், மூக்கையும் தான்,
உன் கிள்ளை மொழியைக் காதலிக்கிறேன், கால் பெருவிரலையும் தான்
உன் ஒரு வார்த்தைக்குப் பணியும் அடிமை நான்
ஆனால் அந்தக் காப்பியை மட்டும் இப்படிக் கழுநீர் போல் உறிஞ்சாதே தயவு செய்து.

Update: This is my version 2.0. Version 1.0 has been moved to the comments section.


frissko said...

'Maarbu' instead of 'Mulaigal' might be less cringe-inducing? (agreed it's all the same, but all conditioning only, what to do..)...

Pretty nice translation...And the 'kezhani thanneer' bit is a nice touch...

Chenthil said...

frissko - the difference between Maarbu and Mulai is the same as Chest and Breast. It is the conditioning (and some active reading of tamil porn mags) that makes the word "cringe inducing", do try to over come it :-). Thanks for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

The original is a brisk epigram satirizing romantic convention, the translation is longer and gawkier free verse. Reproducing rhymes of convenience (nose/toes) in free verse makes them seem wierdly literal, and the joke sags without metrical closure. Why not try using one of the thanipattu forms?

Vikram Seth is zzzz to me but if you're going to give him the flattery of translation, what's the use without some interest in his aesthetic?

Chenthil said...

Anon - Most of my attempts at translation are done on the spur of the moment without much thought. I write in free verse for the simple reason that I don't know to write tamil metered poetry. If you are still around, how does this attempt read?

உன் முலைகளை காதலித்தேன், மூக்கையும் தான்,
உன் கிள்ளை மொழி காதலித்தேன், கால் பெருவிரலையும் தான்
உன் ஒரு வார்த்தைக்குப் பணியும் அடிமை நான்
ஆனால் அந்தக் காப்பியை மட்டும் இப்படிக் கழுநீர் போல் உறிஞ்சாதே தயவு செய்து.

Bala said...


the second one is great..

Chenthil said...

Bala - have posted the second version in the post. Pasting the first version here just for the record - கண்ணே,
உன் மதர்த்த முலைகளைக் காதலிக்கிறேன்.
உன் கத்தி மூக்கையும் தான்.
உன் கிள்ளை மொழியைக் காதலிக்கிறேன்,
உன் கால் பெருவிரலையும் தான்.
ஒரு வார்த்தை போதும், அடிபணிவேன்
உன் அடிமை நான்.
ஆனால் தயவு செய்து காபியைக் கழனித் தண்ணீர் போல் உறிஞ்சாதே.

Krishna Shankar said...

Very well done!

Anonymous said...

I'm really shocked that you can't write in Tamil better learn and set a good example for your child. :-)

The second version is a lot better, 3rd line especially, but the last line is way long. I think trying to sing the lines to a talam will at least make the rhythm consistent.

Re: maarbu. In English, "breast" is sometimes used to mean "chest" rather than women's bits specifically (e.g. "charms to soothe a savage breast"), and considering it's Vikram Seth (!), I also think maarbu would be better.

Chenthil said...

Anon - love that comment "considering it is Vikram Seth" :-). I will stick with the word Mulaigal, thank you. I did try to learn Venba - thEmAngkAi, thEmAngkani stuff, but lost interest. Free verse is a lot less taxing.

Krishnan said...

Nice translation Chenthil. May we hae a peek at the list of books you are looking forward to buying at Chennai book fair ?

frissko said...

hmm...i've actually never read a tamil porn mag (not that i have anything against it, just that i cant read tamil fast enough, something i intend to work on at least to be able to read 'ponniyin selvan') 'exposure' to mulai is thanks primarily to ra.parthiban for a song from the movie 'Sa re ga ma pa dha nee' (that goes 'vilayum payir mulayilaeyae theriyudhu' or some stuff like that)...

Ramnath said...

Hey, i liked the first version. There's no punch in the second.