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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Thailand, Lesson 21 – Sunthorn Phu Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Thailand Series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Thai holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 21, Sunthorn Phu Day. In Thai, it’s called วันสุนทรภู่ (wan sŭn-thaawn phûu).
In this lesson, we’re talking about Soonthorn Phu Day, which falls on June 26 each year. This day marks the birthday of Soonthorn Phu, who was a poet under the reign of King Rama II. His work is magnificent in terms of melodic phrasing. Hence, he is regarded as one of Siam’s best poets.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What type of poem was first presented by Soonthorn Phu?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Soonthorn Phu lived in the palace from a young age, as his mother was a governess there. He was well educated and liked to compose poems, or บทกวี (bòt gà-wii). He had a chance to show his skills in composing Ramayana, the Hindu epic poem, and this was much appreciated by King Rama II. He was entrusted to become the teacher of King Rama II’s sons. Soonthorn Phu had deep knowledge in many areas and was continually noted as a talented poet, or กวี (gà-wii). His poems have been widely popular even up until the present day.
Many of Soonthorn Phu’s works are regarded as beautiful in terms of his spectacular choice of words and melodious rhyme. They are very popular in Thai society and have been adapted into different media such as comic books or หนังสือการ์ตูน (năng-sǔue gaa-dtuun), and movies, or ภาพยนตร์ (phâap-phá-yon). Some of his works have even been translated into English. In 1986, he was recognized by UNESCO as an important person in literacy. He is regarded as the “Shakespeare of Thailand.” Monuments and museums have even been built to commemorate his work.
Every year on Soonthorn Phu Day, there are exhibitions about his life history and his works in various public places in each province. There are also competitions for composing poems and quizzes about his life and works. In educational institutes, there is also a presentation of his most famous works so that following generations can come to appreciate them as well.
His most famous poem, “Phra Aphai Mani,” was composed when he was put in a prison after becoming too drunk and lashing out at others. Even during his captivity, he continued to compose many works due to his love of literature, or วรรณกรรม (wan-ná-gam). Not long after, he was released from prison as King Rama II could not find anyone who could compose poems to his taste. After his release, Soonthorn Phu composed a poem to warn people about the dangers of drinking alcohol.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What type of poem was first presented by Soonthorn Phu?
The Supharb poem is a type of poem that has restrictions on vowels and tones that have to rhyme with those of the next verse, making the poem very appealing to hear. It also shows the composer’s intellectual and masterful command of language. Supharb poems are considered a foundation of many other poems, as it’s easier to understand other poems if you understand the Supharb poem.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Who are the most famous poets in your countries?
Leave us a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!