Temples of Tamilnad

The selections of Tamil poetry included in the text of Temples of Tamilnad come from an ancient, highly evolved and complex tradition almost lost to history. According to a 7th century commentator, three Sangams or academies/fraternities of poetic practise flourished in millenia past, some before the Great Flood. Only from the third Sangam do some 2000 poems remain, written by men and women, some prolific, some anonymous, some known only by a single poem, which have existed as manuscripts preserved by private collectors for hundreds of years until brought to the attention of a 19th century scholar and eventually to the translator cited here, A K Ramanujan, whose work is included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Collection of Representative Works. In an afterword to the anthology Poems of Love and War from the Eight Anthologies and Ten Long Poems of Classical Tamil, published by Columbia University Press in 1985, he elucidates the context or cultural world which, although nearly invisible to contemporary readers, remains preserved like a fly in amber by the poems.

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