The Nācciyār Tirumoḻi (A Woman’s Song) is the longer of Kōtai-Āṇṭāḷ’s poems. It consists of fourteen sections of 10 or 11 verses, for a total of 143 verses. The poem describes the quest for Vishnu, primarily through the voice of a lovelorn girl (often read as contiguous with the poet’s own voice). The poem is erotically charged, sensuous and deeply felt, and is remarkable for its complexity and frank descriptions of female desire (even when that desire is primarily directed towards god). The poem reveals a poet of astonishing virtuosity, erudition and accomplishment.
Excerpted from. Venkatesan,The Secret Garland: Andal’s Tiruppavai and Nacciyar Tirumoli. New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2016.
The Song to Rain Clouds
viṇ nīla mēlāppu
Clouds spread like blue cloth
Clouds spread like blue cloth
across the vast sky
Has Tirumal my beautiful lord
of Venkatam, where cool streams leap
come with you?
Tears gather and spill between my breasts
He has destroyed my womanhood.
How does this bring him pride?
Clouds that spill lovely pearls
what message has the dark-hued lord
sent through you?
The fire of desire has invaded my body
I lie awake here in the thick of night,
a helpless target for the cool southern breeze.
So easily they left me
my lustre, my bangles, thought, sleep
I am destroyed.
I sing of Govinda’s virtues
lord of Venkatam,
where cool waterfalls leap.
How long can this alone guard my life?
Clouds bright with lightning
tell the lord of Venkatam
upon whose lovely chest Sri resides
that my supple young breasts
for his resplendent body.
Great clouds rising into the sky
climb high, rain hard on Venkatam
scatter flowers brimming with honey.
Ask the one who tore the body of Hiranya
with his long nails flecked with blood
to return the conch bangles
he took from me.
Cool clouds heavy with water
rise high and pour down on Venkatam,
home of the one who took the world from Mahabali.
Tell that Narana
he entered me, consumed me, stole my well-being
like a worm that feasts on a wood-apple
Tell him of my terrible disease.
Cool clouds place the plea of this servant
at the feet of the one with beautiful lotus eyes
him who churned the ocean filled with conch.
Beseech him to enter me for a single day
to wipe away the vermilion smeared upon my breasts
only then can I survive.
Dark clouds ready for the season of rains
chant the name of the lord of Venkatam
who is valiant in battle.
Tell him, like the lovely leaves that fall in the season of rains
I waste away through the long endless years
waiting for the day when he finally sends word.
Rain clouds rising like great war-elephants over Venkatam
what word has that one
who sleeps upon the serpent
sent for me?
The world will say: ‘heedless that he was her only refuge
he killed this young girl.’
What honour is there in this?
Kotai of the king of Puduvai,
the peerless city,
desired the one reclining upon the serpent
and sent the clouds as her messengers
to the king of Venkatam
Those who place in their hearts these verses of Tamil
sung by her of luminous forehead
those who sing these words of Tamil
will be with him forever.