Tuesday, August 21, 2012

[Poem] On A Stairway In Luang Prabang

Well, many visitors may be coming over to my blog today because of the recent reading of my poem, "On A Stairway in Luang Prabang," on BBC Radio Scotland's The Written World series read by Khanthieng Muongphene, a lecturer in engineering from Laos. Alas, they did not get a chance to mention all of the amazing people involved in the translation of the poem into Lao, but hopefully I'll be able to share that with you a little later this week.

"On A Stairway In Luang Prabang" first appeared in my 2009 book Tanon Sai Jai, which was available from Silosoth Publishing in Minnesota or as a free e-book.

I previously blogged that you can also see the Thai translation by Joy Panigabutra-Roberts or the French translation by Edouard Dupas at his blog.  Kongkeo Saycocie provided a Lao translation in the contemporary Lao format here.

This is the original version in English:

On A Stairway In Luang Prabang

Step as you will through life,
A thousand ways, a thousand places.

Carry a home in your heart
Or spend years seeking the door
Where your soul will always smile.

Do you ease the way for others,
Or just yourself?

Do you climb great mountains
Just to leave them unchanged?

One day, the heights of holy Phou Si
Will lay as soft valleys.
We, only memories.

But our children's children?

Will they, too, have reason to smile,

Like those dreaming strangers
Who finished their stairs for us?

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