marcel barang

Heart condition

In English, Reading matters on 01/10/2013 at 2:31 pm

angkarn heartsfifthchamberThat Angkarn Chanthathip [pronounced jan.tha.thip, of course] was awarded this year’s SEA Write Award with his collection of poems The heart’s fifth chamber is old news. Instantly, the book is everywhere: I bought my copy in a Bang Saen supermarket.

Angkarn’s poetry is way beyond my ability to translate, but the temptation remains. So, this morning, taking advantage of a few rare hours of sun, I did the fortnight’s laundry (now finishing drying indoors as it’s started to rain again) and sweated over one of the shortest poems, which happens to bear the same title as the collection. I’m sure the original is much richer, but my heart has only four ventricles.

The heart’s fifth chamber – Angkarn Chanthathip

Deep valley, homestead, flowing river
Skyline a fence climbing up to clouds white
Clad with peaks stretching out in a long chain
A sparkling mass whose arms hug the land

The heart dreams of peace
Amidst sorrow and ceaselessly rampant fire
Life percolates slowly and knows how to hear
Love and hope like rain poured to douse the heat

Deep valley rug, homestead, flowing river
The heart pining for ancient dreams
Earth and sky and caring
Such is the native land, the home of yesteryear
Such is the native land, the home of yesteryear

‘Hua Jai Hong Thee Ha’ | Pai – Mae Hong Son | Lent 2007

  1. you can find more translations of Angkarn’s poetry here – though of course they are only ever versions – he is a great poet but I agree, very difficult to translate. Now he’s won sea write I’m sure that he will find a translator for the whole book.

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