Modern Lao Poem:

by Thamnaret (1940 AD)


There are my countries, my forests
And fields full of fires
In the peacock's gold eye
A World an an occasion -- love
In my crazy house of stilts
And my latitude of gold inhabited
By a race of dancers
Whose slightest posturing
Is itself both end and beginning
As, from the end of innocence
They contrive an eloquence
Ambiguous as leaves
Wind rising, in the fire --
Trees the firefly's sermon:
This night, the End of Desire
Your love will be like a stone

Your love will be like a stone
In your mouth, you will be
Blind, you will not see the sun
Nor know the moon's urgency
Trembling on the verge of
Light; but dark will be your own
Heart's house, timbered with shadows
Whose walls lengthen and sway
Like dancers, open and close
Like those enormous, dreaming trees
That celebrate their death
In constant seasons of leaves
Until, in an excess of
Love at last you will be undone
In your house (like your heart)
At the heart of a stone

This is my world and weather
Countries of my ruined house
Locked in their fastnesses
Their colors fading on my sleeve
All this landscape gone to seed:
Cities of stone, cities
Of sandalwood returned
Each year to their own dust
Uner the immemorial, fading fall
Of constant suns, of constant snows
That drink the wildest weather up
Under the drinking trees
Alas! I am not what I was
Am more foreign now for being loved
But O, if I could only wear
The singing countries of my heart
Once more upon my sleeve

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