A Great Poet Disgrated
A certain learned man composed a poem in praise of the Rayar. He has never treated Tennalirama with respect, but always slighted him. One day a public reading of the work was ordered: and when some verses had been read, the reader paused, apparently and unable to proceed, for the next verse was wanted in one foot. The omission was indicated in the manuscript by a mark at the right place, but was not supplied on that page or on any of the next five pages which were too closely written. On the sixth page however, the same mark appeared and under it the missing foot. The poet then directed his attention to the sixth page and asked him to read from there. Saying the verse was read and the discussion ended then. And the poet presented himself in the Rayar’s assembly the next day to receive his prize. Of course Tennalirama was there too. He had got his crown entirely shavel, leaving only two or three short stumps of hair in the place of the lock of hair on his head: this he had removed and now kept it separately by his side. When all was ready, he took his seat in front of the poet, and as the Rayar turned round to where he was, he removed his turban, and after touching with his fingers the stumps of hair on his head, went on arranging the lock of hair which was beside him. The Rayar on seeing this asked him: “What is this?” And he replied:- “While getting shavel, I ordered that the lock of hair on my head should be removed. But I soon changed my mind, and as it was not altogether too late, I ordered a few stumps to be left in the right place as a mark (of omission) intending to bear the lock about me separately. And it is a course of action approved by poets and learned men.” The Rayar questioned: “How do you say approved by them?” To this he replied:- “This learned man who now sits in your presence was exhibiting his work yesterday. What was wanting in a verse on a certain page, he supplied from what was written on the sixth page from that. My action therefore has a worthy precedent.” The poet was much ashamed and hung down his head while the Rayar and the whole court laughed.