Contribution of Avvaiyar, the Grand Old Poetess to Tamil and an Alphabetical Garland to Children

‘Avvaiyar’ (also spelt auvaiyar, meaning the grand old lady) is a well-known Literary figure for Tamils. Tamil scholars usually treat her at par with Greek poetess Sappo of 6th Century B.C. She is categorised also along with recent lady poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning of Italy, Christiana Georgina Rossetti of England and the American poetess Emily […]



‘Avvaiyar’ (also spelt auvaiyar, meaning the grand old lady) is a well-known Literary figure for Tamils. Tamil scholars usually treat her at par with Greek poetess Sappo of 6th Century B.C. She is categorised also along with recent lady poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning of Italy, Christiana Georgina Rossetti of England and the American poetess Emily Dickinson of nineteenth century. Her poems for school children are remembered by adults too, because they contain excellent moral teachings for all age groups. “A good poet incarnate will appear only once in thousand years”, so says a Tamil axiom. Scholars opine that in case of grand old lady poet Avvaiyar, she herself takes birth once in 1000 years. We shall consider the literary contribution of two Avvaiyars first in first century B.C and the second in 10th century B.C. Here, it is not considered as to which Avvaiyar wrote the poems under consideration, but they are classified as Avvaiyar Tamil Literature,because Tamils consider that there are not only two, but several avvaiyars. In conclusion, an “Alphabetical garland” is also given, perhaps for the first time in English, following the work of Avvaiyar in Tamil, known as ‘Aathisoodi’.

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