His Legs Strong and Lithe


His legs strong and lithe,
his bravery fierce and unyielding,
my lord is like a tiger living in a cramped cave
who stretches, rises up, and sets out for his prey.
But they did not think him hard to fight against.
They rose up bellowing,
"We are best, we are the greatest.
Our enemy is young and there is much plunder."
Those foolish warriors who came with contempt
ran with dim eyes, showing their backs,
but he did not let them be killed then.
He took them to the city of their fathers,
and as their women with fine ornaments died in shame
and the clear kinai drum sounded,
there he killed them.


                     --from the Classical Tamil Anthologies
                        Tamil; trans. George L. Hart III


Itaikkunrurkilar, Tamil, trans. George L. Hart III, Poets of the Tamil Anthologies: Ancient Poems of Love and War, 1979, Princeton University Press.