Thursday, January 25, 2007


Tin Moe’s poetry translated by Kyi May Kaung.
Copyright Tin Moe
Translation copyright Kyi May Kaung

Sobs (The Desert Years)

An intake of breath.
A sliver of glass.
Old decades of years
cannot consider.
In these years the bees cannot
make honey the mushrooms
cannot sprout.
All the fields are out of
crops -- Dry.

The mist is damp.
The storm is dim.
The dust rising in clouds,
Along the road where
the bullock cart
has traveled.

Encircled by thorns
The hta-naung tree its trunk
Cat’s claw scratched, is trying
To bloom.

It does not rain.

When it does – it’s not enough
To soak the earth.

In the monastery at
The edge of the village
Are not heard. If they are
they do not enter the ears

There are no novices
Saffron clad
Zilch sounds of young
Reciting the scriptures only the
Kappiya attendant
With his
shaved head falls between the
pillars and the columns of the building.

The earth doesn’t dare
To put forth fruit
It abandons all
And looks at me
At once feeling embarrassed
And frightened as if she
Cannot talk.

When will the sobs change
and the bells ring sweetly again?

New Pages

With one great sigh
So early in the morning
I heave myself out
Of bed

Among the skyscrapers that hit the clouds
The car horns going pipi pipie
The trains full of people ta sisie
The world that stays current with the age
With rapid rat feet
I have to find a place
I can reside
And be safe.

Find my own cool pot
Of village water, on
A stand for strangers, by the roadside.
Ye kyan sin.

Only in old age
When infirmity is catching up with me
Do I have to undertake
This long journey
Of many steps.

On yesterday’s pages
I wrote out the history
So many instances of
So many mistakes
How bitter the taste
Of all those mistakes.

Here, the car engines cough
Into action, in an airplane I have arrived
At the edge of the continent of
North America.

Will I be able
Old and alone as I am
To change the course of history
To edit the past
How will I manage to do

But old as I am
I still have the unrent flag
Of my heart’s spirit still
Waving undaunted.

I can raise up my spirits.

Holding in my hand
A lantern of light
Drinking a potion to keep me
Forever young, I go again to battle singing
A song
Of my own

That sigh that is let out
It’s not
The sign of a deep depression
It is only
The swish of another page turning
Another page
Of my own and my country’s
Dark history.

To Thakin Kodaw Hmaing

With his topknot
On his head
His jacket lopsided
Frogged over
Half his chest, his cloth of
Cotton his yaw
Longyi of indigo
Blue, pundit
Hmaing is a true
Wise man.

With his brain
And his guts
He has risen up
In Revolution.

Miss Red with Little Umbrella.

Gracefully she comes
With her little umbrella.
Come on over, come on over
Teacher is calling.

With her head held up at an angle

Stridently she sings
Recites her lessons. In her
Miss Red
Is always

Copyright Tin Moe
Translation copyright Kyi May Kaung