Some of the most reputed forms of poetry in Tamil Literature are mentioned below:
Akaval Form of Poetry
The Akaval form of rhyme is created from a least of 3 lines to a maximum of few hundreds lines. Every line comprises of 4 Cirs or 4-feet. Each Cir or foot consists of a combination of more than 2 acais or syllables or metrical units and the basic syllable or metrical unit is composed of one or two vowels. Due the narrative feature of Akaval, this form of poetry is similar to prose. But the primary distinction between Akaval and prose is that Akaval is formed in four-foot lines with assonance and alliteration; where as prose does not contain such vital characteristics. However, in the ancient ages, prose was constructed in 4 foot lines as well. This is evident in the prose passages of Cilappatikaram.
Kalippa Form of Poetry
The Kalippa form of poetry is also written in 4 cirs or 4-feet lines, as similar to Akaval verse, but there is a difference in rhyme. In order to produce elegant rhyme the foot is arranged accordingly.
Paripatal Form of Poetry
The Paripatal verse has the features of smooth gracefully flowing rhyme. In all probabilities, Kalippa and Paripatal verse types were inspired and derived from folk songs. These forms of poetry in Tamil Literature are not mundane and ordinary either in metre or form as various poetic components are utilised to make the poetic forms skip. Subsequently, the popularity of Kalippa and Paripatal declined after the 2nd Century AD.
Other Forms of Poetry
Other than these, other forms of poetry in Tamil Literature also evolved with the development of literature as scholars experimented with various types of literary works. Tolkappiyam, earliest work of Tamil literature on the grammar of the Tamil language, states that the various forms of verse were mostly suitable for the composition of love poems. According to the Tolkappiyam, there are several types of poetical forms. Venpa, also mentioned in the Tolkappiyam, became well known after the 2nd Century AD. Moreover, Tolkappiyam mentions that there was another popular form called Pannatti and this kind of poetic form was widely believed to be a derived directly from folk music. There are numerous poetic forms that have originated from musical forms. Even after proper establishment of grammatical and poetical conventions, poets in Tamil literature continued to prefer traditional verse forms. The poets usually avoided the new folk forms that emerged during that period and remained detached. However, the author of Cilappatikaram, Ilanko utilised quite a few of the new folk forms in his literary creations. Moreover, the Saiva and Vaisnava hymnodists of the 7th and 8th century utilised the folk music of the era in the best possible way.
Viruttam Form of Poetry
There was another new verse form known as Viruttam that originated from folk songs and became much popular. In the 10th Century, this new poetical form was initially utilised by Tiruttakkatevar, a Jain poet, in his epic Civakacin-Tamani. All the 3000 verses in the poetic work were composed in the Viruttam verse form. After Tiruttakkatevar's successful application of Viruttam form in Civakacin-Tamani, other poets, such as Kampar and Cekkilar, who earlier composed poetical works in the Akaval form of versification, shifted to Viruttam. Even though the word Viruttam is derived from Sanskrit language, still there is minimal relation with Sanskrit prosody. In fact Viruttam has beautifully evolved from Tamil folk music.
Unlike Akaval, Viruttam has no rules regarding composition of 4 cirs in a line; on the contrary a may consist of 4, 5 or even 40 cirs. However, a poem in this form should follow certain regulations like it should have 4 lines and all the lines should consist exactly the same number of cirs as the initial line. But there are no limitations regarding the length of cirs and may be long or short based on the poets's requirements. Words are arranged depending on emotions which result in diverse rhythm patterns. Thus Viruttam has evolved as the most suitable form which gives effect to various emotions. Even in the modern age Viruttam is widely used in Tamil poetry.
Development of forms of poetry in Tamil Literature
In the 17th Century, the poetic form of Viruttam eventually became insufficient. The scholars and poets searched for new verse forms and took inspiration from the popular folk poetry of the time. Consequently, various forms, such as Kanni, Kummi and Cintu became much reputed. Partiyar adapted from the verse form present in the folk songs of Konankis or street beggars and Paratitacan composed one of his popular poems by utilizing the songs of the rope-dancers. Modern Tamil poetry has also adapted the metrical form of the Kirttanai.
At present, further studies and experiments are conducted in order to evolve and discover new forms of poetry in Tamil Literature.
(Last Updated on : 23-12-2011)
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