Thai poetry

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Poetry has been featured extensively in Thai literature, and constituted the near-exclusive majority of literary works up to the early Rattanakosin period (early 19th century). It consists of five main forms, known as khlong, chan, kap, klon and rai; some of these developed indigenously while others were borrowed from other languages. Thai poetry dates to the Sukhothai period (13th–14th centuries) and flourished under Ayutthaya (14th–18th centuries), during which it developed into its current forms. Though many works were lost to the Burmese conquest of Ayutthaya in 1767, sponsorship by subsequent kings helped revive the art, with new works created by many great poets, including Sunthorn Phu (1786–1855). Prose writing as a literary form was introduced as a Western import during the reign of King Mongkut (1851–68) and gradually gained popularity, though poetry saw a revival during the reign of King Vajiravudh (1910–25), who authored and sponsored both traditional poetry and the newer literary forms. Poetry's popularity as a mainstream form of literature gradually declined afterwards, although it is still written and read, and is regularly employed ceremonially.

Forms[edit]

Thai poetic works follow established prosodic forms, known as chanthalak (Thai: ฉันทลักษณ์, pronounced [tɕʰǎntʰalák]). Almost all have rules governing the exact metre and rhyme structure, i.e. the number of syllables in each line and which syllable rhymes with which. Certain forms also specify the tone or tone marks of syllables; others have requirements of syllable "heaviness". Alliteration and within-line rhyming are also often employed, but are not required by the rules.

Khlong[edit]

The khlong (โคลง,  [kʰlōːŋ]) is the among oldest Thai poetic forms. This is reflected in its requirements on the tone markings of certain syllables, which must be marked with mai ek (ไม้เอก,  [máj èːk], ◌่) or mai tho (ไม้โท,  [máj tʰōː], ◌้). This was likely derived from when the Thai language had three tones (as opposed to today's five, a split which occurred during the Ayutthaya period), two of which corresponded directly to the aforementioned marks. It is usually regarded as an advanced and sophisticated poetic form.[1]

In khlong, a stanza (bot, บท,  [bòt]) has a number of lines (bat, บาท,  [bàːt], from Pali and Sanskrit pāda), depending on the type. The bat are subdivided into two wak (วรรค,  [wák], from Sanskrit varga).[note 1] The first wak has five syllables, the second has a variable number, also depending on the type, and may be optional. The type of khlong is named by the number of bat in a stanza; it may also be divided into two main types: khlong suphap (โคลงสุภาพ,  [kʰlōːŋ sù.pʰâːp]) and khlong dan (โคลงดั้น,  [kʰlōːŋ dân]). The two differ in the number of syllables in the second wak of the final bat and inter-stanza rhyming rules.[1]

Khlong si suphap[edit]

The khlong si suphap (โคลงสี่สุภาพ,  [kʰlōːŋ sìː sù.pʰâːp]) is the most common form still currently employed. It has four bat per stanza (si translates as four). The first wak of each bat has five syllables. The second wak has two or four syllables in the first and third bat, two syllables in the second, and four syllables in the fourth. Mai ek is required for seven syllables and Mai tho is required for four, as shown below. "Dead word" syllables are allowed in place of syllables which require mai ek, and changing the spelling of words to satisfy the criteria is usually acceptable.

The following plan shows the rhyming structure of one stanza. Each letter represents a syllable; A and B (also C, D, E and F in other examples) represent rhyming syllables. Syllables shown by letters in parentheses are optional.

OOOOO OA (OO)
OOOOA OB
OOOOA OO (OO)
OOOOB OOOO

The following plan shows the tone mark requirements; each ก represents one syllable.

กกกก่ก้ กก (กก)
กก่กกก ก่ก้
กกก่กก กก่ (กก)
กก่กกก้ ก่ก้กก
Example[edit]


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เสียงฦๅเสียงเล่าอ้าง อันใด พี่เอย
เสียงย่อมยอยศใคร ทั่วหล้า
สองเขือพี่หลับใหล ลืมตื่น ฤๅพี่
สองพี่คิดเองอ้า อย่าได้ถามเผือ
—Unknown, Lilit Phra Lo (ลิลิตพระลอ), c 15th–16th centuries

Transcriptions:

Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS):
siang lue siang lao ang an dai phi oei
siang yom yo yot khrai thua la
song khuea phi lap lai luem tuen rue phi
song phi khit eng a ya dai tham phuea
International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA):
sǐaŋ lɯ̄ː sǐaŋ lâw ʔâːŋ ʔān dāj pʰîː ʔɤ̄ːj
sǐaŋ jɔ̂m jɔ̄ː jót kʰrāj tʰûa lâː
sɔ̌ːŋ kʰɯ̌a pʰîː làp lǎj lɯ̄ːm tɯ̀ːn rɯ̄ː pʰîː
sɔ̌ːŋ pʰîː kʰít ʔēːŋ ʔâː jàː dâːj tʰǎːm pʰɯ̌a

Translation:

What tales, what rumours, you ask?
Of whom is this praise being spread throughout the world?
Have you two been asleep, having forgotten to wake up?
You both can think of it yourselves; do not ask me.

Chan[edit]

The chan (ฉันท์,  [tɕʰǎn] from Pali chando), is derived from Pali and Sanskrit metres, and based on the Vuttodaya, a Sri Lankan treatise on Pali prosody. It developed during the Ayutthaya period, and became a prominent poetic form, but declined afterwards until it resurfaced in a 1913 revival.[2]

The main feature of the chan is its requirements on the "heaviness" of each syllable. Syllables are classified as either "light" (lahu, ลหุ,  [lahù]), those with a short vowel and open ending, or "heavy" (kharu, ครุ,  [kʰarú]; See also Light and heavy syllables under Sanskrit prosody). The Thai metres follow their Pali/Sanskrit origins, with added rhyming schemes. Modern authors have also invented new forms for their compositions. Two traditional forms are shown here.[2]

Inthrawichian chan[edit]

The inthrawichian chan (อินทรวิเชียรฉันท์,  [īn.tʰrá.wí.tɕʰīːan tɕʰǎn], from Indravajra, a form of Sanskrit poetry and meaning Indra's thunderbolt) has two bat per stanza, with eleven syllables in each bat, following the pattern HHLHH LLHLHH (H represents heavy and L represents light syllables):

HHLHH LLHLHH
HHLHH LLHLHH

The rhyming scheme (which is identical to that of kap yani, see below) is shown here in two stanzas:

OOOOA OOAOOB
OOOOB OOOOOC
OOOOD OODOOC
OOOOC OOOOOO
Example[edit]


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สายัณห์ตะวันยาม ขณะข้ามทิฆัมพร
เข้าภาคนภาตอน ทิศะตกก็รำไร
รอนรอนและอ่อนแสง นภะแดงสิแปลงไป
เป็นครามอร่ามใส สุภะสดพิสุทธิ์สี
—Chit Burathat (1892–1942), Na Hat Sai Chai Thale Haeng Nueng (ณ หาดทรายชายทะเลแห่งหนึ่ง, "At a Seaside Beach")

Transcription:

RTGS:
sayan tawan yam khana kham thikhamphon
khao phak napha ton thisa tok ko ramrai
ron ron lae on saeng napha daeng si plaeng pai
pen khram aram sai supha sot phisut si
IPA:
sǎː.jān ta.wān jāːm kʰa.nàʔ kʰâːm tʰí.kʰām.pʰɔ̄n
kʰâw pʰâːk ná.pʰāː tɔ̄ːn tʰí.sàʔ tòk kɔ̂ rām.rāj
rɔ̄ːn rɔ̄ːn lɛ́ʔ ʔɔ̀ːn sɛ̌ːŋ ná.pʰáʔ dɛ̄ːŋ sìʔ plɛ̄ːŋ pāj
pēn kʰrāːm ʔa.ràːm sǎj sù.pʰáʔ sòt pʰí.sùt sǐː

Translation:

The evening settles as the sun crosses the sky.
As it sets in the west, its light fades.
Its last rays flicker, and the sky turns from red
Into a clear glowing indigo, so bright and pure.

Wasantadilok chan[edit]

The wasantadilok chan วสันตดิลกฉันท์,  [wá.sǎn.tà.dì.lòk tɕʰǎn], from Sanskrit vasantatilaka) has fourteen syllables per bat, with the pattern HHLHLLLH LLHLHH:

HHLHLLLH LLHLHH
HHLHLLLH LLHLHH

The following plan shows the rhyme structure in two stanzas.

OOOOOOOA OOAOOB
OOOOOOOB OOOOOC
OOOOOOOD OODOOC
OOOOOOOC OOOOOO
Example[edit]

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ช่อฟ้าก็เฟื้อยกลจะฟัด ดลฟากทิฆัมพร
บราลีพิไลพิศบวร นภศูลสล้างลอย
—Phraya Sisunthonwohan (Phan Salak), Inlarat Kham Chan (อิลราชคำฉันท์), c 1913

Transcription:

RTGS:
chofa ko fueai kala cha fat dala fak thikhamphon
brali philai phisa bawon napha sun salang loi
IPA:
tɕʰɔ̂ː.fáː kɔ̂ fɯ́aj ka.lá tɕa fát da.la fâːk tʰí.kʰām.pʰɔ̄ːn
brāː.līː pʰí.lāj pʰí.sa ba.wɔ̄ːn ná.pʰá sǔːn sa.lâːŋ lɔ̄ːj

Translation:

The chofa stretches out as if it would fight the very sky.
The roof crest-plates are such a grand beauty to look at; the spire of the stupa soars up high.

Kap[edit]

There are several forms of kap (กาพย์,  [kàːp]), each with its specific metre and rhyming rules. The kap may have originated either from the Indic metres or from Cambodian forms.[3]

Kap yani[edit]

The kap yani (กาพย์ยานี,  [kàːp jāː.nīː], or yani sip et, sip et meaning eleven, referring to the number of syllables per bat) has two bat per stanza. Each has two wak, with five and six syllables. It is slow in rhythm, and usually used to describe beauty and nature. The following plan shows the rhyming scheme in two stanzas; the spaces show the usual rhythmic breaks (not shown in writing).[3]

OO OOA OOA OOB
OO OOB OOO OOC
OO OOD OOD OOC
OO OOC OOO OOO
Example[edit]


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เรือสิงห์วิ่งเผ่นโผน โจนตามคลื่นฝืนฝ่าฟอง
ดูยิ่งสิงห์ลำพอง เป็นแถวท่องล่องตามกัน
นาคาหน้าดั่งเป็น ดูเขม้นเห็นขบขัน
มังกรถอนพายพัน ทันแข่งหน้าวาสุกรี
—Chaofa Thammathibet (1705–46), Kap He Ruea (กาพย์เห่เรือ พระนิพนธ์เจ้าฟ้าธรรมธิเบศร, Kap for the Royal Barge Procession)

Transcription:

RTGS:
ruea sing wing phen phon chon tam khluen fuen fa fong
du ying sing lamphong pen thaeo thong long tam kan
nakha na dang pen du khamen hen khopkhan
mangkon thon phai phan than khaeng na wasukri
IPA:
rɯ̄a sǐŋ wîŋ pʰèn pʰǒːn tɕōn tāːm kʰlɯ̂ːn fɯ̌ːn fàː fōːŋ
dūː yîŋ sǐŋ lām.pʰɔ̄ːŋ pēn tʰɛ̌w tʰôŋ lôŋ tāːm kān
nāː.kʰāː nâː dàŋ pēn dūː kʰa.mên hěn kʰòp.kʰǎn
māŋ.kɔ̄ːn thɔ̌ːn pʰāːj pʰān tʰān kʰɛ̀ŋ nâː wāː.sù.krīː

Kap chabang[edit]

The kap chabang (กาพย์ฉบัง,  [kàːp tɕʰa.bāŋ], or chabang sip hok, sip hok meaning sixteen, the number of syllables per stanza) has three wak per stanza, with six syllables in the first and third, and four syllables in the second. It is often used for narratives, and often accompanies the chan. The following plan shows two stanzas.[3]

OOOOOA OOOA
OOOOOB
OOOOOB OOOB
OOOOOO
Example[edit]


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ธรรมะคือคุณากร ส่วนชอบสาธร
ดุจดวงประทีปชัชวาล
แห่งองค์พระศาสดาจารย์ ส่องสัตว์สันดาน
สว่างกระจ่างใจมนท์
—Phraya Sisunthonwohan (Noi Acharayangkun) (1822–91), Veneration of the Dhamma (บทนมัสการพระธรรมคุณ)

Transcription:

RTGS:
thamma khue khunakon suan chop sathon
dut duang prathip chatchawan
haeng ong phra satsadachan song sat sandan
sawang krachang chai mon
IPA:
tʰām.máʔ kʰɯ̄ː kʰú.nāː.kɔ̄ːn sùan tɕʰɔ̂ːp sǎː.tʰɔ̄ːn
dùt dūaŋ pra.tʰîːp tɕʰát.tɕʰa.wāːn
hɛ̀ŋ ʔōŋ pʰráʔ sàːt.sa.dāː.tɕāːn sɔ̀ŋ sàt sǎndāːn
sawàːŋ kra.tɕàːŋ tɕāi mōn

Translation:

The Dhamma is the foundation of good, that which itself is good.
Like a bright lantern,
Of the great prophet-teacher, shining into each being's character,
Bringing light to foolish hearts.

Kap surangkhanang[edit]

The kap surangkhanang yi sip paet (กาพย์สุรางคนางค์ 28,  [kàːp sù.rāːŋ.kʰa.nāːŋ jîː sìp pɛ̀t], yi sip paet means twenty-eight) has seven wak per stanza, with four syllables in each wak. A less common form is surangkhanang sam sip song (thirty-two), with eight wak per stanza. Its rhythm is fast, and is used to describe anger and fighting. The following plan shows two stanzas of surangkhanang 28.[3]

OOOA OOOA OOOB
OOOC OCOB OOOB OOOD
OOOE OOOE OOOD
OOOF OFOD OOOD OOOO

Klon[edit]

In the generic sense, klon (กลอน,  [klɔ̄ːn]) originally referred to any type of poetry. In the narrow sense it refers to a more recently developed form where a stanza has four wak, each with the same number of syllables. It is usually considered an original Thai form.[4] The klon metres are named by the number of syllables in a wak, e.g. klon hok (กลอนหก,  [klɔ̄ːn hòk]) has six syllables per wak (hok means six). All metres have the same rhyming scheme, and there are also requirements on the tone of the final syllable of each wak. The klon is also divided into several types according to their manner of composition, with klon suphap (กลอนสุภาพ,  [klɔ̄ːn sù.pʰâːp]) being the basic form.

The following plan shows the structure of klon suphap (two stanzas) in the most common eight-syllable variety, which was employed extensively by Sunthorn Phu, and is the most common form of the Rattanakosin period. The letters in parentheses represent alternative rhyming syllables. In practice, occasional wak with seven or nine syllables are also acceptable.

OOO OO OOA OOA O(A) OOB
OOO OO OOB OOB O(B) OOC
OOO OO OOD OOD O(D) OOC
OOO OO OOC OOC O(C) OOO

Example[edit]



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ถึงโรงเหล้าเตากลั่นควันโขมง มีคันโพงผูกสายไว้ปลายเสา
โอ้บาปกรรมน้ำนรกเจียวอกเรา ให้มัวเมาเหมือนหนึ่งบ้าเป็นน่าอาย
ทำบุญบวชกรวดน้ำขอสำเร็จ พระสรรเพชญโพธิญาณประมาณหมาย
ถึงสุราพารอดไม่วอดวาย ไม่ใกล้กรายแกล้งเมินก็เกินไป
ไม่เมาเหล้าแล้วแต่เรายังเมารัก สุดจะหักห้ามจิตคิดไฉน
ถึงเมาเหล้าเช้าสายก็หายไป แต่เมาใจนี้ประจำทุกค่ำคืน
—Sunthorn Phu, Nirat Phukhao Thong (นิราศภูเขาทอง, c 1828)

Transcription:

RTGS:
thueng rong lao tao klan khwan khamong mi khan phong phuk sai wai plai sao
o bap kam nam narok chiao ok rao hai mua mao muean nueng ba pen na ai
tham bun buat kruat nam kho samret phra sanphet phothiyan praman mai
thueng sura pha rot mai wotwai mai klai krai klaeng moen ko koen pai
mai mao lao laeo tae rao yang mao rak sut cha hak ham chit khit chanai
thueng mao lao chao sai ko hai pai tae mao chai ni pracham thuk kham khuen
IPA:
tʰɯ̌ŋ rōːŋ lâw tāw klàn kʰwān kʰamǒːŋ mīː kʰān pʰoːŋ pʰùːk saːj wáj plāːj sǎw
ʔôː bàːp kām náːm na.rók tɕīaw ʔòk rāw hâj mūa māw mɯ̌an nɯ̀ŋ bâː pēn nâː ʔāːj
tʰām būn bùat krùat náːm kʰɔ̌ː sǎm.rèt pʰrá sǎn.pʰét pʰōː.tʰí.jāːn pra.māːn mǎːj
tʰɯ̌ŋ sù.rāː pʰāː rɔ̂ːt mâj wɔ̂ːtwāːj mâj klâj krāːj klɛ̂ːŋ mɤ̄ːn kɔ̂ kɤ̄ːn pāj
mâj māw lâw lɛ́ːw tɛ́ː rāw jāŋ māw rák sùt tɕa hàk hâːm tɕìt kʰít tɕʰa.nǎj
tʰɯ̌ŋ māw lâw tɕʰáw sǎːj kɔ̂ hǎːj pāːj tɛ̀ː māw tɕāj níː pra.tɕām tʰúk kʰâm kʰɯ̄ːn

Rai[edit]

The rai (ร่าย,  [râːj]) is probably the oldest Thai poetic form and was used in laws and chronicles. It is also the simplest. It consists of a continuing series of wak of unspecified number, usually with five syllables each, and with rhymes from the last syllable of a wak to the first, second or third of the next. Some variations don't specify the number of syllables per wak and are actually a form of rhymed prose. A composition consisting of rai alternating with (and ending with) khlong is known as lilit (ลิลิต,  [lí.lít]), and suggests that the khlong developed from the rai. The following is the form of rai known as rai boran (ร่ายโบราณ,  [râːj bōː.rāːn]).[5]

OOOA   A(A)(A)OB   B(B)(B)OC   C(C)(C)OD   D(D)(D)OE   E(E)(E)OO ...

Example[edit]

สรวมสวัสดิวิชัย เกริกกรุงไกรเกรียงยศ เกียรติปรากฏขจรขจาย สบายทั่วแหล่งหล้า ฝนฟ้าฉ่ำชุ่มชล ไพศรพณ์ผลพูนเพิ่ม เหิมใจราษฎร์บำเทิง...ประเทศสยามชื่นช้อย ทุกข์ขุกเข็ญใหญ่น้อย นาศไร้แรงเกษม โสตเทอญ

—King Chulalongkornthe Nitra Chakrit (ลิลิตนิทราชาคริต, 1879)

Reading[edit]

When read aloud, Thai poetry may be read conventionally, or in a melodic fashion known as thamnong sano (ทำนองเสนาะ,  [tʰām.nōːŋ sanɔ̀ʔ], lit. pleasing melody). Thamnong sano has many melodic styles, and there are also other specific styles used for certain performances, such as sepha. Thamnong sano reading is often featured in student competitions, along with other forms of language-related performances.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In literary studies, line in western poetry is translated as bat. However, in some forms, the unit is more equivalent to wak. To avoid confusion, this article will refer to wak and bat instead of line, which may refer to either.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "โคลง Khloong". Thai Language Audio Resource Center. Thammasat University. Retrieved 6 March 2012.  Reproduced form Hudak, Thomas John (1990). The indigenization of Pali meters in Thai poetry. Monographs in International Studies, Southeast Asia Series (87). Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Center for International Studies. ISBN 978-0-89680-159-2. 
  2. ^ a b "ฉันท์ Chan". Thai Language Audio Resource Center. Thammasat University. Retrieved 6 March 2012.  Reproduced form Hudak, Thomas John (1990). The indigenization of Pali meters in Thai poetry. Monographs in International Studies, Southeast Asia Series (87). Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Center for International Studies. ISBN 978-0-89680-159-2. 
  3. ^ a b c d "กาพย์ Kaap". Thai Language Audio Resource Center. Thammasat University. Retrieved 6 March 2012.  Reproduced form Hudak, Thomas John (1990). The indigenization of Pali meters in Thai poetry. Monographs in International Studies, Southeast Asia Series (87). Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Center for International Studies. ISBN 978-0-89680-159-2. 
  4. ^ "กลอน Klon". Thai Language Audio Resource Center. Thammasat University. Retrieved 6 March 2012.  Reproduced form Hudak, Thomas John (1990). The indigenization of Pali meters in Thai poetry. Monographs in International Studies, Southeast Asia Series (87). Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Center for International Studies. ISBN 978-0-89680-159-2. 
  5. ^ "ร่าย Raay". Thai Language Audio Resource Center. Thammasat University. Retrieved 6 March 2012.  Reproduced form Hudak, Thomas John (1990). The indigenization of Pali meters in Thai poetry. Monographs in International Studies, Southeast Asia Series (87). Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Center for International Studies. ISBN 978-0-89680-159-2.