One of the most evocative pieces of short poetry from Subramanya Bharathi and also which is very famous.
Today being Bharathi's birth anniversary (he was born Dec 11, 1882), this is a tribute piece from me to him.
This song comes as a part of Bharathi's collection of worship songs on Krishna who is referred to as "Nandha Laala" here. The original raagam on which Bharathi set this song is Yadhukula Kaambodhi with Aadhi Thaalam. Don't ask me about the raagas, but it is more for a classical music-lover's consumption.
தோத்திரப் பாடல்கள் - நந்த லாலா
காக்கைச் சிறகினிலே நந்த லாலா! - நின்றன்
கரியநிறந் தோன்று தையே, நந்த லாலா!
பார்க்கும் மரங்க ளெல்லாம் நந்த லாலா! - நின்றன்
பச்சை நிறந் தோன்று தையே, நந்த லாலா!
கேட்கு மொலியி லெல்லாம் நந்த லாலா! - நின்றன்
கீத மிசைக்குதடா, நந்த லாலா!
தீக்குள் விரலை வைத்தால் நந்த லாலா! - நின்னைத்
தீண்டு மின்பந் தோன்றுதடா, நந்த லாலா!
The image above is courtesy a dear blogger friend Srivats and he owns all the rights and shows a sunset in Bali. I have picked this image because I feel that a sunset evokes the closest feelings to what the poem conveys in its last stanza with the fiery sun setting into the cool ocean and hence a suitable metaphor.
Here is the English translation to my best effort. The song is very evocative in Tamil.
In a crow's plumes, Nandha Laala!
Appears thy ebony hue, Nandha Laala!
In trees beheld, Nandha Laala!
Blends thy green tint, Nandha Laala!
In sounds heeded, Nandha Laala!
Resonates thy melody, Nandha Laala!
In flames fingered, Nandha Laala!
Feels thy caress, Nandha Laala!
There are multiple raagas in which this song has been sung and one version was sung by K J Yesudas in the Tamil movie 'Yezhaavadhu Manidhan' (Meaning "7th person", released in 1982 and composed by L Vaidyanathan, the brother of the famed violinist L Subramanian), probably one of the only two movies in Tamil where all the songs are Bharathi's songs (the other being the biographical Bharathi movie which came in 2000).
Click on the Play button to hear the song sung by K J Yesudas with a lilting melody. (At times, you may need to press the Play button twice to start the song play)
I have been searching for a rendition of this song with visuals when it used to be aired by Doordarshan a long time back. The raagam used was not any of the ones I have heard singers singing this song (Unnikrishnan, Bombay Sisters, Bombay Jayashree, Sujatha, Rajkumar Bharathi (great-grandson of Bharathi). The song used to start at a high pitch and sustains throughout and at the end, the visuals are something like what is above. I don't know who sung it (a female voice), but that version had such as mesmerizing effect on me that time stood still and tears would well-up in my eyes. Another Bharathi song that used to get played along with that, with soft visuals was "Kaani Nilam Vaendum". Hope I chance upon those again sometime from some kind soul to whom I would really be indebted. There are only weak references to it on a Google scan.