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soc.culture.thai Language FAQ
Section - L.4) Poetry

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From: (Jaray Chomchalao)
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 1994 03:21:53 GMT


In fact, Thai poetry is nothing I've seen elsewhere. English poetry,
French, Chinese poetry seem trivial when compared to the rhyme and rhythm
that are required in Thai poetry. For example, most if not all English and
Chinese poetry required /sam+pas'nOOk"/, or rhymes between lines. And
that's it. Thai, on the other hand. reuires /sam+pas'nai-/ as well as
/sam+pas'nOOk"/. This may be because Thai language is richer in choice of
words. For example there are at least six ways to say a horse ie, /maa^/,
/?aa-cha-/, /?aa-cha-nai-/, /as'sa'dOOn-/, /sin+thop^/, /as'sa-wa^/. The
following is an extreme example that best demonstrates the richness of Thai
Language. It is a /klOOn 8/ that, when wriiten out in Thai, uses only one
syllable to make a meaningful, no-nonesene poem.


(Composed by Unknown)


There are five different styles in Thai poetry altogether. You might say
six, with the sixth being anything that arenot included in the follwing

1) /kloong-/: /kloong-/ is probably one of the most difficult to
   appreciate, since the rhyme and rhythm are not obvious to beginners. But
   once you appreciate how difficult to write one, and learn their rhyme
   and rhythm, they are very beautiful indeed. They come in variety, but
   with one particular /kloong-/ the most emminent: /kloong-sii'su'paap"/

saai+yud'yud'klin'fung^        yaam-saai+
   (/saai+yud'/ [flower] stops its late morning)
saai+bOO'yud'sa'nee'haai+      haang' saw"
   ([But] your charm never stops..sad to leave it.)
tuk^khUUn-tuk'wan-waai-        waang-ta-weet' laa-mAA'
   ([I'm] Crying the whole night and day through)
ta'win+tuk^khuab'kam"chaaw^    yud'daai"chan+dai'
   ([I] Miss you in the evening, yet in the morning...How could I stop?)

(From Lilit Taleng Paai when Maha Upparat was smelling the flowers named
 /saai+yud'/ and saying that the flowers name means it will stop spreading
 its scent late in the morning, as opposed to him who never stop thinking
 of her no matter what time, day or night. He later died fighting against
 Phra Naresuan, a Thai King. But that's another story.)

2) /chan+/: /chan+/ or /kam-chan+/, or /sa-look'/, is probalby the hiest
   form of Thai poetry, since besides the common rhyme and rhythm required
   by all other styles, /chan+/ also requires that words used are in a
   particular order, such that the particular syllables are accented
   (/karu^/) and others are non-accented (/lahu'/). There are too many
   types of /chan+/ to enumerate, but probably the accepted two most
   beautiful /chan+/'s are /wa^san+ta'di'lok'chan+/ (/chan+/ as beautiful
   as the blooming season (Spring)) and /in-ta-ra^wi^chian-chan+/ (/chan+/
   as beautiful as the Intra's jem: Intra is the most powerful god in the
   second level of the six-level heaven, the /taaw-wa'ting-sa'/ or
   /daaw-wa-dUng-/). The following example is my own /chan+/ written in
   Intrawichian Chan style.

                        Silvery Moon

jEd'jan-na^wan-pen-             dam-ruu-den'wi^la-wan-
   (Bright moon on the full moon night...has unique beauty)
faa^ngaam-araam'pan'            pi^las"ras(sami)^jam-ras'sAAng+
   (The sky's suddently beautified...lightened up by the moon shine)
naam^khang^kOO"prang"praai-     pra^paai-chooy-mi^rooy-rAAng-
   (Dew dropped the wind breezingly blew)
miang-maan"pra^chan-jAAng"      kra'jang'ut'ta^yaan-sruang+
   (Peeking face contested those lights in the heavenly park)
sak'suung+sa'wet'hong+          duj'ong-rat^cha'nii-duang-
   (Her sky-high grace...can easily upset the moon)
praai-mas"mi^aaj'luang"         sup'pa^lak^sa'naa-choom+
   (Highly valued gold beauty would not dare to compare hers)
yAAm^yim^lAA-prim^pak^          phi^las'lak^khUU-khAA+khoom-
   (When smiling, her face was brightened up easily matching the moon)
yol-yos^la^laan-loom-           ra^thuaay-thOOd"rU^thai-thOOn+
   (Looking at her beauty only made my body weak, my heart shrunk)
yOOb"wan-ta^naa-kaan-           wing-waan-rat^cha-nii-kOOn-
   ([Or I] should knee down, begging this noble woman)
oo-phaas"pra'phaa-phOOn-        ru^jii-ras^sa'mii+saan+ (saan+=message)
   (To release her golden and silverly words)
saad'sOOng'na^hOOng"hOO+        mi^rang^rOO-hai"luaang"kaan-(time)
   (Extend to me, at the lonely love place, at this time)
jAAng"jaw"ma^tu^maan-           ma^na^nAAb"maai+AAb'ai-
   (....[?]......who had always wanted to be with you)
riam-lOOb"ram-luk^nak^          phi^laap"rak^lA'aa-lai-
   (I had made a lot of thinkings, a lot of sufferring as well)
jong-phEEy+pha^jii-khai+        hai"klaay-khOO"thii"khOOng"suaang-
   (Would you say a word to answer my heart's question?)
lUaam-rai^phra^phaai-luaang"    raa-trii-jan- ...kra'nan^rUU- ?

3) /kaab'/: One of the most popular. There are three of them:

3.1 /kaab' cha'bang- 16 (sip'hok')/ because there are 16 syllables in one
    verse. Ex:

khao+suung+phuung+hong+long-riang-         rEnag-roong^song^siang+
klaang-pai-kai'khan+ban-leeng-             fang-siang+piang-pleeng-
yuung-tOOng-rOOng^ka'toong"hong'dang-      priang-prong^kloong-ra^khang-

(From /muul-la'bot'ban'pa^kit'/, the first Thai book for teaching by Phraya
 Sri Suntorn Woharn (Noy^ Ajarayangkool))

The rhymes in this example are extreme, since Phraya Noy really demontrated
his talent beyond that requires by the Kraab Chanabang structure.

3.2 /kaab' su'raang-ka^naang- 28/. The example I can think of is the one
    that describes how to compose Surangkanang itself:

jet'wak^jak'waang-                      hai"thuuk'wi^thii-
wak^nUng'sii'kam-                       jong-jam-haii"dii-
bot'nUng'jUng-mii-                      yii"sip'pAAd'kam-

sam+pad'throng-nai+                     jam-hai"mAAn"yam-
kam-thaai^wak^saam+                     tid'taam-pra'jam-
sam+pad'kab'kam-                        thaai^bot'thon"lAA-

3.3 /kaab yaanii 11 (sip'et')/: got the name from the fact that there are
    eleven syllables in one line. The structure, rhyme and rhythm are
    similar to Intrawichain Chan+ except that there's no
    accented/unaccented syllabes reuired. The one of the most beautiful
    Thai Poetry, IMO. Ex:

daaw-duaan-kO"luan"lab^                 saang+pa'yap^pa'yom-bon-
juaan-jAAng"phra^su'ri^yon-             ya^yiam"yOOd'yu^khuun-thOOn-
som+dej'ha'ri^ya^wong-                  put^ta^pong-ti^paa-kOOn-
sa-dej'long-song+saa+khOOn-             kab'phra^lak^a'nu^cha-
see+naa-prUd^tha-maat'                  taam-phra^baat'sdej'kraa-
juaan-klaai"ja'thUng+sa+                kha^rees"thii'tha^song+chon-
phra^leng-lAA-nEn-saai-                 thAAb"sUng^saai+cha'lee-yol-
Yaw-wa^ruup"a'su'ra^kol-                an-klaai-klAAng"pen-sii+daa-

....He further studied the faked Sida.

(From Rammakian: when Phra ram saw nang Benjakaai impersonating his wife
 Sida floating downstream as if drowned)

4) /klOOn-/: There are two major /klOOn-/s around Klon 6 (/klOOn-hok'/) and
   Klon 8 (/klOOn-pAAd'/) with Klon 8 the most popular form of poetry among
   all Thai poetry. Ex:

4.1 /klOOn- 6/: So named since there are six syllables in one (what the
    heck is it called in English) wak^: [....]

dAAd'OOn'din-un'krun'klob'      tha'la^lob'lom-pAAw'pAAw'naaw+
sod'chUUn"khUUn-wan-naan-yaaw-  mUaan+khaaw'kwaam-rak^jak'maa-

(By Nawarat Pongpaiboon)

4.2 /klOOn 8/: So named for the same reason: The following example is both
    beautiful in sound and structure, and elegant in meaning. The guiding
    light for me, and should be for you as well:

                The Ultimate Dream

   (To dream the impossible dream)
   (To fight the unfightable foes)
   (To bear the unbearable sorrow)
   (To reach the unreachable far)
   (To right the unrightable wrong)
   (To defend the beloved land till the last breath)
   (To rather die than to loose dignity)
   (To do things for others for nothing in return)

   (Will not be discouraged but do what should be done)
   (Will not wasting time doubting)
   (Will not blame anybody for {one's} poor fate)
   (Will not feel bad if life ends)

   (This is my quest)
   (To establish justice)
   (Despite on my suffering)
   (I still persist with pride)

   (Then the world would be better than this)
   (As many never give up though being doubted)
   (They have determined to win)
   (And will devote their life for the benefit of other THAIS)

(phra^rat'cha^ni^phon- nai-pra^bat'som+dej-phra^ chaaw"yuu'huaa+
 phuu-mi'phon-a'dun-ya^dej, rat^cha^kaan-pat'ju'ban-)

(Composed by His Majesty The King, King Bhumibhol Adulyadej)

   Translator's Note: Some sentence above are the recollection of my
       memory of the song "The Impossible Dream." I have noticed the
       similarity between the Thai words and those in the song and
       have come to concluded that though the King composed the song,
       the person who filled the melody with words was inpired by if
       not plagiarizing it. I didn't have the whole text of words of
       the song in hand while attempting this translation. I could
       only recall some while created my own sentences, the lengthy
       ones, for the others.

5. /raai"/: Is probably the least structured of all Thai poetry. But don't
   take that for easy, it's not. I for one never can compose a /raai"/. Too
   difficult since you have to be a master of Pali and Sanskrit to write
   one as beautiful as those poets before us did. So maybe this is least
   structured but the most difficult nonetheless. They come in some
   variety, with probably the most prominent being /raai"yaaw-/ used to
   praise the King or a new Capital. One of such well known example is the
   name of Krung Rattanakosin or Bangkok that many of us got it wrong
   recently. I'll present another /raai"yaaw-/ praising Ayudthaya, the
   former Capital of Siam.

srii+a'yud^tha'ya-rom-ma'yees-          pi^ses'suk'bam-thEEng-
sam+rEEng-rat'cha^sa'than+              sam+raan-rat'cha^sa'thit'
pi^pit^pok'kha^som+bat'                 pi^pat^pok'ka^som+buun-
phuun-phi^phop^dab'khen+                yen-phi^phop^dab'yuk^
sa'nuk'khan+ta^see+maa-                 sam'see+naa-nOOb"klaaw"
sam'snom+faw"faai'nai-                  sam'phon-krai-krEEk'haan+
sam'phon-saan+sin+thop-                 sop'sat'traa-sOOn+plEEng-
tha'kEEng-phra^kiat'fung'faa^           rUU-ta'la^lob'lAAng'laa"

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