Many Said


Many said,
"That old woman, the one whose veins show
on her weak, dry arms where the flesh is hanging,
whose stomach is flat as a lotus leaf,
has a son who lost his nerve in battle and fled."
At that, she grew enraged and she said,
"If he has run away in the thick of battle,
I will cut off these breasts from which he sucked,"
and, sword in hand, she turned over fallen corpses,
groping her way on the red field.
Then she saw her son lying there in pieces
and she rejoiced more than the day she bore him.


             –from The Classical Tamil Anthologies
              Tamil; trans. George L. Hart III


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