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Give, Eat, and Live

Poems of Avvaiyar

Translated from the Tamil by Thomas H. Pruiksma

Publication Year: 2009

Give, Eat, and Live is a selection of poems translated from the 12th century Tamil poet Avvaiyar, arguably one of the most important female poets in Tamil's two-thousand-and-five-hundred years of literary history, and certainly one of the best known, of any gender. Although people across the state of Tamil Nadu know many of her works by heart, she has received little attention outside India, owing largely to the lack of decent translations. The one comprehensive work in English, Avvaiyar, a great Tamil poetess, by C. Rajagopalachari (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1971), has long since been out of print and renders Avvaiyar's poems in accurate but wooden translations. This book, by contrast, seeks to render her finest songs in a supple and poetically charged English that allows both her intellect and poetry to shine.

Published by: Red Hen Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 7-8

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pp. 9-18

The word Auvai means “mother,” “older woman,” or “female ascetic”; to it we add ār, a respectful suffix, to make “Avvaiyar” (Auvaiyār). The name has been given to women since the Sangam period, roughly 100 B.C.E. to 250 C.E. An Avvaiyar of that time was given the loving protection of Atiyamān̲ Neṭumān̲ Añci, ...

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Love Generosity: Translator’s Note on Avvaiyar

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pp. 19-22

Children in Tamil Nadu grow up with Avvaiyar. You can often hear gradeschool students repeating after their teachers the opening statements of Ātticcūṭi, her alphabetical acrostic, one line for each Tamil letter, like “A is for Apple, B is for Ball.” Her list begins: “Love generosity.” ...

The Word that Endures

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pp. 23-42

The Right Road

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pp. 43-60

What We Know

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pp. 61-68


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pp. 69-70


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pp. 71-72

E-ISBN-13: 9781597093576
Print-ISBN-13: 9781597090971
Print-ISBN-10: 1597090972

Page Count: 72
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: First

OCLC Number: 867793677
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Give, Eat, and Live