Tag Archives: Tamil Sangam poetry

Love and war

two thousand years ago
our word for love
was the same.

women and men
wrote their songs of love
the intimacies of inside

and they spoke of how
love was tireless
love was a fantasy feast
love was no disease
love was no evil goddess
love was a harshness, in the parting
love was
             ‘the thing that made a girl’s bangles
             slip loose when her lord went away
             grow tight when her lord returned’
love was (they sang)
             ‘bigger than the earth
             higher than the sky
             unfathomable than the waters.’
love was.

no names were named.
you did not know
             who he was
             or who she was
             or when it was
             or where it was
only
love was.

and there were
the poems of war,
the war poetry
poems on the outside

(and perhaps
because the bards
wore lotuses of gold)

there are
the poems
where the names were named
where the kings were praised
where a bard addressed another
where the guide sang to the patron
where the poet sang to the courtesan
where mothers spoke of tigers in their wombs
where the kingdom was
             ‘an unfailing harvest of
             victorious wars’
where the old women
             ‘threatened to slash their breasts
             if their sons died in battle with backs
             turned in fright’
where the end spoke of
             ‘the blood glowing
             in the red center of the battlefield
             like the sky before nightfall’

and because it has an end
war was a history.

love never has an end.
love was. and will be.

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