Translate a Poem
One poem can be translated in many different ways - close translations, 'freer' versions, after-images and metamorphoses of all kinds.
You do not need to have translated poetry before to have a go at translating this poem, nor do you need to speak Thai. » Submit your version
Poem in translation
Lese Majeste: In the Back Room
Mise en scène: at the back of the mouth, a secret trial room, a room
set in black and white, plywood over the windows and a single swinging light.
The only sound is a muted thudding.
In this room, ordinary words are hanged from golden nails and blood
drips down an anklebone under the cloak of justice—
And it continues in this backroom: the quiet thudding; the wooden frame,
already painted, is grinning, and the tables and chairs, disgusted,
still can’t refuse their part in the ritual; in this room where words are weighed,
the scale of good and evil is always already tipped—
in this airless room at the back of the mouth, vulgar words shiver from their forms;
in this nowhere room, even death cowers on a wooden pew.
In this room, any words but silver words are hanged from golden nails,
and blood flows over ordinary anklebones, dripping under the cloak of justice.
And this is happening every day: a ritual in the mouth, a trial in black and white,
where thought is a gavel and ordinary words sentenced: left thudding in the throat.
Help on translating this poem
For background information, see Cutter Streeby's blog on translating this poem, and on Lese Majesty.
You do not have to be a published poet or translator to send in your version, or to have ever translated a poem before. We welcome submissions from all. You can submit your version using the form below. Please note that submissions via this form for this project will not be considered for publication in MPT Magazine, and you should consult our submissions guidelines if you wish to submit something for publication.
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Translate a Poem
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