marcel barang

Siriworn, revisited

In English, Reading matters on 23/09/2010 at 7:52 pm

.

…And talking of Siriworn, since, having missed the SEA Write Award yet again, he has sent me three favourite poems of his from his latest collection in the cheeky hope of earning the consolation prize of a translation into English, what could I do, but pick one and rephrase it quickly on the gas stove? Here goes:

Under the soles of a troop of yellow monkeys – 1

My words got burnt…
My words got burnt in the blazing April sun
Well into the month of May
A blast of hot wind
Carried the charcoal ashes of those words away

Ambiguity travelled all over the land
In a boat of silence
Buzzing with the tears and cheers
Of a troop of yellow monkeys

My words got burnt…
Stateless death cuts deep into memory
It looks as though we’ve already forgotten
That in Middle Eastern sands
The fog of blood has yet to lift
In the Salween basin
The sun has yet to dare step in
A troop of monkeys in Indochina
Is still drowsy with the fever of past centuries
No different at all
From the flames that set the Malay Peninsula ablaze
But tragedy in our souls
Is short-lived

So I can’t mention the gloom
That flows across the Malacca Straits
So I can’t mention the pain
That throbs in the Gulf of Thailand

My words got burnt…
My words got burnt in the blazing April sun
Well into the month of May
A blast of hot wind
Carried the charcoal ashes of those words away
So I skirt the ice-cold silence
Of fleeting remembrance and overnight suffering
Of all of us and sundry poets
While flames never stop blazing
Under the soles of our feet
Of our troop of yellow monkeys

xxxxx[May 2004, first printed in Politics, January 2005]

  1. Perhaps I am missing out on something but… I am wondering what the parenthesis sitting next to the title of this poem is suppose to refer to…?

  2. Thanks for the remark, JoJo. My guess is that, this being taken from a collection of poems written over the years, there at least another poem with the same title further down. I left ‘(1)’ to make it easy for those readers of the blog who might want to look up the Thai version. But, since it’s not a footnote notice, it should be presented as ‘- 1’. I’ll correct this presently.

  3. N’étant pas littéraire de formation, j’ai cherché sur le web et si je m’en tiens à ce que j’y ai observé, il ne semble pas y avoir de convention comme tel et la forme de notation (chiffres romains, usage de parenthèses, etc) semble être une question de choix de la part de l’auteur. Ceci étant, comme vous ne présentez sur le blog qu’un seul des poèmes appartenant à cette série, c’est vrai que dans ce cas la notation ‘chiffre entre parenthèses’ porte à confusion. En tous les cas, merci pour les précisions.

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