White Boy Learning Burmese

The journey of an average white guy trying to learn a non-Indo-European language

Poetry Translation [BUR –> ENG]: #2 Oh, Lover


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Well, today my mother and I had to put two of our beloved cats (RIP Bear and Cinnamon) down (ျမန္မာလို: ဒီေန႔ ကၽြန္ေတာ့္ေမေမ နဲ႔ ကၽြန္ေတာ္တို႔က ျမတ္ႏိုးတဲ့ေၾကာင္ႏွစ္ေကာင္ကို မနာက်င္ေစဘဲ သက္ေတာင့္သက္သာေသေစရန္ လုပ္ရခဲ့တယ္။).  So, to take my mind off of them, I’ve decided it’s time to translate another poem.  This one was written by a young poet named သဲသဲေလး who has a blog here: http://myanmarlovepoem.blogspot.com/ The title is called “ခ်စ္သူရယ္” (Eng: Oh, Lover).  As always, I’ll provide first an interlinear version, a literal English version, and an English rendering.


(I won’t include the Burmese here in the post with the interlinear, since there is a picture here.)


Line 1:[NUM: 1][N: instance][NUM: 1 (spelling variant)][UNKNOWN][PRO: 1st][PART: also]

Line 2:[N: vision][PART: Neg-prefix][V: to see][N: ear][PART: Neg-prefix][V: to hear]

[PART: adjective-marker][N: person][NUM: 1][Counter-N: person][PART: Obj-marker][PART: like/as]

Line 3:[V: become/ occur][PART: politeness][PART: conditional][V: pray]

[V-prt: past-tense][PART: to happen to do sth.][PART: Verb end]

Line 4: [INT: what][PART: because][PART: open-ended Q]

Line 5: [PRO (poss.): 1st][V: love][PART: adj marker][N: person][PART: diminutive]

[NUM: 1][Adj: foreign/ different][NUM: 1][N: person][PART: with]

Line 6: [2-part V: be happy][2-part V: be enraptured]

Line 7: [V-Prt: Pres.-prog.][PART (colloq.): noun-former][PART: object-marker]

[PRO: 1st][PART: Neg-prefix][V: to see][Vprt: sense of having the courage to do sth.]

[V-prt: Neg-prefix][V: hear][V-prt: verb suffix to denote lack of consideration]

[V-part: be able][PART: because][PART: politeness]

Line 8: [N: love][N: person][PART: diminutive][PART: oblation marker]


Sometimes I also

Like being a person who can’t see can’t hear

Happened to pray as if it were to occur.

Of what cause…?

My lover with another person

To the happy enrapturing…

Because I don’t have the courage to see, I am unable to consider hearing

Little lover…


Oh, my love…

Sometimes, I prayed that I’d become like a deaf or a mute…


Because I can’t bear to see, nor could I consider hearing

That you’re happily enraptured with another…

I find that this poem is rather dark, especially in comparison with the last one. However, သဲသဲလေး must either be a really good poet, or she must have had some really emotional breakups! Either way, I think that this is another simple and innocent poem. The unfortunate thing of me not being a native Burman (Myanmar), is that I can only translate the poem in the rendition given to me by the dictionary. There are certain Burmese words like ဒုက္ခ မေတ္တာ and ထာဝရ/ထာဝစဉ် which I believe I can connect to and translate at the level of a native, just because of the experiences and situations in which I used those words. However, I’m glad I found this poem because the words ရဲ and ရက် are quite fascinating, to me, and I hope I can use them in future blog entries. This poem was a lot easier to translate, just because my experience from the last poem, taught me to read it not linearly, but phrasally.


6 thoughts on “Poetry Translation [BUR –> ENG]: #2 Oh, Lover

  1. Ko Win Hein, I think you’re getting quite adapt at Burmese poetry translation. Perhaps you’ll even be inspired to pen a few verses of your own in the near future.

    ဒုက္ခ (noun) means misery or suffering. It’s a word that came from Pali, derived from Buddhist scriptures, so most non-native Burmese speakers will probably get tripped up by it. Similarly, မေတ္တာ (noun) means compassion, sympathy, or kindness, also derived from Pali.

    ထာဝရ/ထာဝစဉ် means everlasting, forever, or eternal. For example, ထာဝရအချစ် would mean eternal love/everlasting love.

    The way the poet သဲသဲလေး (little heart) uses ရဲ and ရက် is quite touching, I thought. Ordinarily, ရဲ means brave, but in her usage, it’s closer to dare, as in “I dare not envision …” As you’ve astutely picked up on, ရက် at the end of a verb suggests “I cannot bear to [do this]” “How can I bring my self to [do this].” So the 7th line in the poem is, essentially, “I dare not see, nor can I bear to hear …” But that’s awkward English. Your translation did a marvelous job capturing the essence of it.

  2. တစ္ခါတစ္ေလ ဘာသာျပန္ေတြေရးရင္ တိုက္ရုိက္ဘာသာျပန္လို႔ မရႏုိင္ပဲ အဓိပၸါယ္လဲြမသြားေအာင္ ကိုယ့္ဥာဏ္နဲ႔ကိုယ္ စီေလွ်ာ္တဲ့ စကားလံုးကို ရွာျပီး ေရႊးသံုးရတာဟာ ဘာသာျပန္ေရးတဲ့သူေတြရဲ႕ အရည္အခ်င္းပဲ။ ၀င္းဟိန္းဘာသာျပန္ထားတာေကာင္းပါတယ္။ အထူးသျဖင့္ ေအာက္ဆံုး ၂ေၾကာင္းေပါ့…

  3. ေၾသာ္… ဒါနဲ႔ ေၾကာင္ေလးအေၾကာင္းၾကားရတာ စိတ္မေကာင္းလိုက္တာ…. မေဗဒါလဲ ေၾကာင္ခ်စ္တယ္။ ျမန္မာျပည္မွာေနတုန္းကေတာ့ အိမ္မွာေၾကာင္ေလးေတြရွိတယ္။ ဒီေရာက္ေတာ့ မေမြးျဖစ္ေတာ့ဘူး။ သူတို႔ေသရင္ စိတ္မေကာင္းျဖစ္ရတယ္။ ျပီးေတာ့ ခရီးေတြဘာေတြသြားခ်င္လဲ သံေယာဇဥ္မျပတ္ဘူး။ သူတို႔အတြက္ စိတ္ပူေနရတယ္။

  4. ဘာသာျပန္ထားတာေကာင္းပါတယ္………(တတ္သလုိလုိျဖင့္) ႏွစ္အနည္းငယ္အတြင္းမွာအဲေလာက္တတ္တာ..ကိုဝင္းဟိန္းေတာ္တာေပါ့

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