What For ? – Poems by C. Mani



Translated by E. Annamalai


What For?


I didn’t come
to rush to my office
straight from home.
I came to watch with fun,
stopped and musing,
like a boy
sent to school by his mother
all I like and dislike
all that stands and moves
on my way.


I didn’t come
to build a house
with stones and mortar
checking the measurements
with the blueprint in hand.
I came to chisel
the image
cherished in my mind
when I find
a rare piece of stone.


I didn’t come
to dance without slip
to the notes and tunes
sung and gone stale
in the years passed.
I came to dance
to the tunes new and fresh
so that the people
will enjoy
with their whole body beating time
and the mind musing on.


I didn’t come
to climb up the hill
counting the steps
with the multitude.
I came to run up
as my legs drag on,
my mind drives, eyes show.


I didn’t come
to put the same dots
in the courtyard
and connect them
as my folks did.
I came to draw
like the clouds
that take shapes spontaneously,
with the wind gentle or rough,
in the sky cleaned and white-washed
by the moon.


I didn’t come
to make a replica
from the books or tradition
set in my mind.
I came to create
my own universe
in the vast cosmos
that transforms the boiling gas
into a pretty planet.


Above translation first published by Mahfil, Vol. 4, No. 3/4, TAMIL ISSUE (Spring and Summer, 1968), pp. 21-36. Published by: Asian Studies Center, Michigan State University.

About the Author

C. Mani (1936-2009) wrote modern Tamil poetry and was known for his experimental works. He was one of the major contributors in Ezhuthu magazine. His two long poems “Naragam” and “Varum Pogum” received much attention and critical acclaim.