Plaidoirie for a "Prince" of Jaffna


                “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”

                            George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Nobel Prize


                                       by T. Wignesan



Blue blood gushes when heroes die

From gory wounds on battlefields

Not in castle intrigues when for a lie

Crowns use commoners as shields.


A royal house does not construct itself

After centuries have broken tradition

Or on formal rules on how to name itself

Nor on who should follow in succession.


A true prince re-possesses the land first

Takes for his witnesses native-born citizens

Bids them follow his will out of dire thirst

Not as the self-crowned leader of denizens.




To be born a Kshastriya is not a privilege,

      The birthright is even an act of sacrilege

If he who dons the crown scorns the people;

      A spurned poem in the culled florilege.


In the blown sliver of land at Great Bharat’s feet

      No one knows what Tamil line came to greet

Found refuge and took throne to announce a reign

      Nor helas to make much of a glorious feat. 


Kings are not born to hoist the castial banner,

      Rather had they earlier scaled the social ladder

Through heroic deeds by protecting the masses;

      Chieftains peer-elected to top the social order.


A Prince may not bring dishonour to his kingdom

      In times of strive for the sake of Christendom;

If he seeks spurious honours to feather his nest

      And alienates a people who die for freedom.      


A King is he who in high danger opts for sacrifice

       Like Kattabomman seeking no excuse nor artifice

Met the East India Company’s Collector all alone

       And fought his valiant way through gunfire malice.


The history of Tamil kingdoms in all ages gone by

        Teaches us the same lesson made proverbial by

An Ettappan who in his insatiable envy of grandeur

        Caused the ultimate Tamil Prince to hang high.                   


We live in a world where politicians are the real Princes

        Who wear no crowns but their ministerial pince-nez;

Yet other captains struggle against such fait accompli

         And in jungles forge a human bulwark of chances. 


It’s not the cherry on the icing that makes a cake

         If underneath the slender icing over a lake

Wild worms bore at the crust raised in protection,

         Won’t people then take a Kshastriya for a fake.


If you want to be king then let your voice be true

          Renounce all wish to be ordained a true blue;

Let the people choose what they want for a crown

          If they need you, will they not call upon you. 


Uneasy the head which wears the realm’s crown

        While the people fret and fume and frown;

See how caretaker John usurps the Lion-Heart’s throne:

        Uneasier the head become the butt of a clown.


                    Lay aside all thought of fame

                    In the quest for a feudal name;

                    He who assumes an ancient title

                    Must prove worthy of the same.



© T.Wignesan March 2006 – Paris, France


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