Where the Lilies Were in Flower

Patirruppattu 13

Fish leaping
in fields of cattle;

easy unplowed sowing
where the wild boar has rooted;

big-eyed buffalo herds
stopped by fences of lilies
flowering in sugarcane beds;

ancient cows bending their heads
over water flowers
scattered by the busy dancers
swaying with lifted hands;

queen's-flower trees full of bird cries,
the rustle of coconut trees,
canals from flowering pools
in countries
with cities sung in song:

but your anger
touched them, brought them terror,
left their beauty in ruins,
bodies consumed by Death.

The districts are empty, parched;
the waves of sugarcane blossom,
stalks of dry grass.
The thorny babul of the twisted fruit
neck to neck with the giant black babul.

The she-devil with the branching crest
roams
astraddle on her demon,
and the small persistent thorn
is spread in the moving dust
of ashen battlefields.

Not a sound, nothing animal,
not even dung,
in the ruins of public places
that kill the hearts of eager men,
chill all courage,
and shake those who remember.

But here,
the sages have sought your woods.
In your open spaces, the fighters play
with bright-jeweled women.
The traveler is safe on the highway.
Sellers of grain shelter their kin
who shelter, in turn, their kin.

The silver star will not go near
the place of the red planet: so it rains
on the thirsty fields.
Hunger has fled
and taken disease with her,

Great one,
your land blossoms
everywhere.
Author of original: 
Kumattur Kannanar
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