Six on the Desert Ways

Ainkurunuru 321, 323, 325, 327, 328, 330

(1)

Even when I cross those places

where the hen-eagle,
parched head and chisel beak,
squawks on the dry forks
of spreading omai trees,

beyond the bare forest floors,
the several hills of alien languages,

her gentleness
goes with me.

(2)

They've come,
crossing even the hot forking desert paths

where the sharp-toothed red dog of the jungle
waits by the cactus clump
to kill a wild pig
for his mate
now suffering pangs of labor,

all the way
they've come with you, O heart,

the gentle ways
of the woman you love.

(3)

In the desert

where birds fear
the summer rustle
of pipal leaves
and do not eat its fruit,
and migrate elsewhere,

the narrow desert ways
do not trouble me:

I have for company
my love's gentleness.

(4)

The small-eyed elephant flinches,
afraid of burning
his big trunk,
all streaked and spotted;
won't let it touch the ground.

The groves are charred
by the heat;
only bamboos stand tall
in these paths.

Even in such a difficult stretch
the thought
of my girl's gentle ways

keeps me cool.
(5)

A shower of small rain,
and flowers appear all over:

but they're hot
for the likes of me

who've left behind
a sweet young love

to roam dried-up woods
in wastelands.

(6)

Though we have come through
the hot dust of sunbeaten wastelands,

give up,
go no further:

her eyes fill,
her beauty is scattered,

as she thinks
of these, the sun's cruel burning places,

my girl
of glittering bangles

and delicate ornaments,

alone
in her heart's loneliness.
Author of original: 
Otalantaiyar
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