Antal : Call Him to Me

The following verse by the Tamil poet-saint Antal (or Andal) is taken from her poem ‘Koelbird, Call Him to Me’. The koel is the Indian cuckoo, with a clear and distinctive call. ‘Venkata’ is the name of a sacred mountain, the lord of which is Vishnu, the object of Antal’s burning passion. For more about Antal, see this earlier post.

The immaculate lord
whose left hand holds
the silvery white conch
shows not his form to me.
He enters my soul,
makes it melt,
plays upon my heart,
tortures me.
Warbling koelbird
drunk with honey
dripping from magnolia flowers,
speak to my lord of Venkata
murmur softly to him,
ask him to come to me.

Translation Vidya Dehejia

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