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Sunday Scribblings #177: See the Elegant and Powerful Kural

February 21st is International Mother Tongue Day and with that in mind, I bring you the kural poetic form, an integral part of Tamil poetry since forever. And of course, Tamil is my mother tongue.

I have wanted to feature the kural for way too long on my blog but somehow stayed away from doing so. One reason being that attempting it truly is tough for the requirements within make for many if-then rules. Two, while Tamil is my mother tongue, I never learned to read or write it as a child. Reason being I grew up in a different state and did learn to read and write two other Indian languages (Hindi and Kannada) in addition to English. Though I do have a rudimentary knowledge of the Tamil script having attempted to learn it later in life, and can manage to read and write at an elementary school level.

So read on to learn more about the kural poetic form as well as other usual things I include in my Sunday Scribblings each week.

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Notepad and a pen over it with a cup of coffee next to it. words read Sunday Scribblings, and this is for Sunday Scribblings #177: See the Elegant and Powerful Kural

Poetic Sundays: The Kural

As I mentioned earlier, today’s poetic form is the kural picked because it is a Tamil poetic form. Tamil is my mother tongue and February 21st this week celebrates International Mother Tongue Day!

So What is the Kural?

The Kural is an ancient Tamil poetic form and in the simplest terms, it is a couplet with 4 words in the first line and 3 in the second line. It usually adheres to metrical patterns and grammar of the “venpa” stanza, which is considered one of the most difficult and highly esteemed stanzaic structures of Tamil literature. This makes it hard to translate to other languages. However, we can adapt it a little to write in English.

Characteristics of the Kural

So the anthathi’s elements are that at its most basic, it is:

  • stanzaic: is a self-contained couplet, each composed with four words in the first line and three words in the second line. Can be written in a series or any number of kurals as long as each could stand alone.
  • metered (but in this case, optional): uses the traditional metrical pattern is known as “kural venpa”. However, this does not translate well to the English language so feel free to use a different meter (or none).
  • unrhymed: While devoid of traditional end-rhyme, the Kural thrives on a sophisticated interplay of assonance and consonance. Within each line, key vowel sounds harmonize, and consonants repeat exactly across the two lines. You can use the etukai as one way to do this (though not mandated): it typically involves the exact repetition of the second syllable in both lines
  • untitled: poets may choose to title or leave their verses untitled
  • often themed: Many kural compositions are dedicated to universal truths, life lessons, morality, human experiences. So kind of like little proverbs or aphorisms
  • uses parallelism (optional): try to use parallel ideas and images across the two lines (along with those sounds)

My First Attempt at the Kural (in English)

First word I uttered
Mom heard it.

~ Vidya @ LadyInReadWrites

Further reading, h/t, and references


On My Blog And the Homefront

Here are my posts since the last Scribblings post

Valentine’s Day was mostly quiet as we spent it at home and usually do really nothing much. Though I did get some flowers and cheesecake (one of my fav desserts)….<3 And we then drove down to San Luis Obispo to pick up my son for the long weekend as he had been under the weather for the week before. So it is really nice to have him home this weekend. Staying indoors anyway as it is a stormy weather weekend throughout.


On My Blog and On the Homefront

Hope to get a few different posts like I had originally planned with a weekly schedule so long ago. My dd has her whole week off from school so it is going to be more relaxed this coming week because of that. And it is going to be raining for the first half (definitely not complaining of the rain after those years of drought earlier).

This Week’s Celebrations

Literary Celebrations (close-to-it also!)

  • Literary birthdays this week of February include: Helen Fielding, Marissa Meyer, and Ryū Murakami on Fen 19th; Richard Matheson and Sally Rooney on the 20th of February; Anais Nin, Chuck Palahniuk, Erma Bombeck, W.H. Auden on the 21st of February; Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edward Gorey on the 22nd; W.E.B. Du Bois and Francesca Simon on the 23rd; Gillian Flynn, Wilhelm Carl Grimm, Laila Lalami, and Rainbow Rowell on the 24th; Anthony Burgess on the 25th
  • The 20th of February is Clean Out Your Bookcase Day and while I did clean out one bookcase (the biggest one in our home) recently, the rest are waiting their turn so maybe I should get to them this week!
  • International Mother Language Day is on the 21st of February
  • World Thinking Day is on the 22nd of February (#WTD2024). This year’s theme is Our World, Our Thriving Future.
  • A fun holiday to celebrate on the 23rd with Pinocchio Day (Since I first read the story, I have it here with the literary celebrations!)

Foodie Celebrations

Other Celebrations

Wrapping up my Sunday Scribblings

So dear reader, you have reached the end of this Sunday Scribblings! As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about this post. And do let me know if you plan to celebrate any of these mentioned celebrations this coming week/month?

Linking this to the Sunday Post over at the Caffeinated Reviewer and the Sunday Salon

the tamil letter 'a' on a blue background and the pin title is Poetic Sundays: the kural

8 thoughts on “Sunday Scribblings #177: See the Elegant and Powerful Kural

  1. The kural sounds like it is interesting, and complicated. I struggle to write poetry, and I think it is a challenge to fit it into certain parameters.
    Those holidays are fun, especially the ones that celebrate sweets!

  2. What a beautiful tribute to International Mother Tongue Day and to the rich heritage of Tamil poetry through the kural form. It’s truly inspiring to see you embrace and celebrate your roots, even when faced with the challenges of language barriers and learning later in life!

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