The Son of the Fallen Stars

(Original Poem Written in Burmese)
By Min Ko Naing*

Recited By Min Ko Naing at the funeral of the Burmese poet Tayar Min Wai**

Translated by Dr Myint Zan
Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Law
Multimedia University

Friend, you have nurtured
your belief as
though it is your own child

Friend, you have lighted
your wounds
as though they were wick-lamps

Friend, you have licked your
wounds with your own tongue
and have already learned how to be alive

Friend, you have
already peeled
your own skin:
sharpen your own bones
as though they were needles
and perfectly beautify yourself
by knitting your own clothes

Friend, tarry along my friend:
to remedy, to the best of our ability,
the hurts and wounds of
this Earth on which many stars fall
we will stay behind

go ahead my friend :
in order to protect with our palms
the heat of the Earth where many Suns
send their fury
we will stay behind

proceed first my friend
to prepare the contents page
for your poems inside
the Earth’s
sorrowful gramophone
we will stay behind

move on my friend
when the Peacock flag***
is raised again
on the walls of our Universities
we will …

** Min Ko Naing is a pseudonym for the most prominent Burmese student leader during the August-September 1988 uprising. For his role in the failed or ‘still-born’ student-led uprising Min Ko Naing was imprisoned by the Burmese authorities for more than 15 years from 1989 to 2004.

*** Tayar Min Way is a prominent Burmese poet, writer and fellow student struggler of Min Ko Naing in what is known as the 8888 generation of Burmese students uprising of 1988 (which started on 8 August 1988). Tayar Minway died in August 2007 at the age of forty-one.

**** The Peacock flag is a symbol of Burmese sovereignty and strength and is used by generations of Burmese students in their various struggles against unjust rule. As a symbol of resistance, strength and victory the Peacock Flag was first used by Burmese students in their struggle against British colonialism from the 1930s onwards. Since the 1960s the use of the Peacock Flag has been banned by the authoritarian Burmese governments. Throughout all these years where the Flag is banned Burmese students activists have displayed, talked and wrote about the Peacock Flag if not always openly then at least clandestinely as a defiance against unjust authority and as a symbol of victory. Read in the original, for the translator this moving eulogy and tribute poem –which the translator may not be able to do justice in the translation- is as much an elegy of Min Ko Naing’s departed colleague as it is a message of hope, strength and courage symbolizing the Burmese students’ and the Burmese people’s struggles and aspirations.


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