Clattery MacHinery on Poetry

July 26, 2006

"The Korathy’s Lullaby" for you to tattoo by

Filed under: Uncategorized — Clattery MacHinery @ 5:18 am

“The Korathy is the tattooer of the Indian village, who offers her services for a small fee. Hindu females are very fond of having their bodies tattooed. The Korathy first makes a sketch of the figure of a scorpion or a serpent on the part of the body offered to her for tattooing, then takes a number of sharp needles, dips them in some liquid preparation which she has ready, and pricks the flesh most mercilessly. In a few days the whole appears green. This is considered a mark of beauty among the Hindus. While the tattooing takes place the Korathy sings a crude song, so as to make the person undergoing the process forget the pain. The following is as nearly as possible a translation of the song which I myself heard.” –T. Ramakrishna (or Thottakadu Ramakrisha Pillai, 1854-)

      from Tales of Ind: and Other Poems, 1896

      by T. Ramakrishna

      The Korathy’s Lullaby

Stay, darling, stay–’tis only for an hour,
And you will be the fairest of the fair.
Your lotus eyes can soothe the savage beast,
Your lips are like the newly blossomed rose,
Your teeth—they shine like pearls; but what are they
Before the beauties of my handiwork?

Stay, darling, stay–’tis only for an hour,
And you will be the fairest of the fair.
I’ve left my home, and all day hard I toil
So to adorn the maidens of the land
That erring husbands may return to them;
Such are the beauties of my handiwork.

Stay, darling, stay–’tis only for an hour,
And you will be the fairest of the fair;
In days of old fair Seeta laid her head
Upon the lap of one of our own clan,
When with her lord she wandered in the wilds,
And like the emerald shone her beauteous arms.

Stay, darling, stay–’tis only for an hour,
And you will be the fairest of the fair.
And often in the wilds, so it is said,
She also of the Pandus went in quest
Of one of us, but found not even one,
And sighed she was not like her sisters blest.

Stay, darling, stay–’tis only for an hour,
And you will be the fairest of the fair.
My work is done; rejoice, for you will be
The fairest of your sisters in the land.
Rejoice for evermore, among them you
Will shine as doth the moon among the stars.

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