Sunday, July 05, 2020

Prayut’s poetic sentiments finally translated into English

Jul 24. 2017
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Re: “Poet PM urges farmers to embrace the ‘right life,’” Thailand, July 22.

Once again The Nation drops the ball, poetry-wise, by failing to give us an English translation of our Poet PM’s latest lyrical triumph. 

This is the fifth poem our premier has written, but all we’ve seen in English is one line of his earlier masterpiece, whose title has been somewhat clumsily translated as “Farmers’ Soul Soothing Poem”.  That line reads: “You are strong, tolerant, and have high integrity worth respecting.” 

The most callow amateur could render that sentiment more poetically. How about this? 

“O farmer! Noble peasant! 

Tiller of Thailand’s fecund soil!

Thou who hast ever been

Oppressed and downtrodden

By many a PM before me! 

Mighty of muscle art thou,

Aye, and tolerant of every ill,

Stoically bearing thy many burdens

With high integrity worthy of emulation!”

Note, please, the shift from “respect” to “emulation”. Anybody can respect integrity, which seems to be in fairly short supply in contemporary Thailand despite its purported superabundance among farmers. What Thailand needs is rulers who both respect integrity and emulate it.

Let’s have a translation of that latest poem, please.  

Fonning Toddy

Celtic Bard (retired)

Connoisseur of elegant verse

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