Ariya Po Parơng

Translation of William Noseworthy (new version)


[I] have created and transmitted this poetryFor all friends and relatives to hear

On the 15th of January in the year of the Chicken

France sent their officers to take us with them

The agent sent the letter to [force hire] coolies

They conscripted four Cham of Phan Rang

To leave their fields and houses and go with them

We sat so disheartened, sighing

Beside [ourselves], thinking and afraid of the journey ahead

Suddenly we saw an old Cham [man] arrive by boat

In the estuaries, where the peninsula sticks out

He descended and the ordered [us] to walk

To arrive at NhaTrang, the French

Sent us to walk to see the Po Nâgar tower

We ascended to take advantage of the view

We found the tower of incomparable beauty

From the soil of this land, lush trees growThe Kinh people offer silk and light oil lanterns day and night [for her/Po Nâgar]

The ancestral Yang and Cham ancestors of old

Fled this land and allowed the Kinh people to worship here

The temple tower was built at the edge of the sea

On top of a majestic mountain, remaining there for years

I looked to find the inscriptions

Around the shrine or the tower in the land of KhánhHòa

The land where everything grows

Mangoes, jackfruit, banana, papaya, sugarcane, pomegranate

Where buffalo, horses and cows are raised too

Working the rice fields (or) dreaming of the land of Phanrang

That country where bamboo is planted around the house

The buffalo and cows are penned in, but do not have rings in their noses

When harvest arrives, or it is time to plow

Cattle do not have their noses pierces, they have yolks or horns

In the night, we slept, and the French called early

We prepare to go up to the lands of the Raglai

Some were brought back, for them to discuss

We finalized the collection of inscriptions, then headed onward to PhúYên

They pay only 4 đồng per monthThe officers went to PhúYên to see all the towers

And asked which towers have writing

Taking people from that land as they found them

That country they found is covered in peaks

They cultivate sugar cane like the land in Phan Rang

There are many fields[1] with stones placed around them

There is little forest, [but] planting in many villages, every place is like this

We were miserable like one can not explain

Going across the land, depending only on God the Father

When we arrived in PhúYên, the Kinh people asked:

“Brothers arriving like this, how many are there of you?”

That country has more sunshine, less rain

As in the land of Phan Rang, that has rain and sun

In that country they harvest areca

Picking and cutting it to sell everywhere

There is much hardship, they don’t make enough to eat

There are many mountain peaks, and less land for padi plots,

They don’t have carts like Phan Rang or PhanRi

They pack the grain and carry it on horseback

That land has a mountain named Horse’s NeckBrothers we were tired, our suffering immense

There Jatam Po and Bien Kuw

I went first to the area of BìnhĐịnh

Into the dragon’s den, I was so scared

In the land of BìnhĐịnh there are so many Kinh people, both big and small

They herded us and we (had minds) like children

But the wiser French, the isolated themselves behind

That country is so very very rich

The sell silk at the market in the towns, blankets

The shirts paired with trousers

For each customer to buy what is very fitting

Press sugar cane to make sugar

In the market they have goods without shortage

For their hungry buyers

All kinds of food and drink, according to any taste

They also strike the gong very frequently

According to each customer, they have hats with large brims

Trays, lacquer boxes, basins and copper Cham platters

Siamese shoes, good umbrellas, cotton skirts, in the [city] streets by the thousands

There we waited for the French shipsThey pursued up to the far away Raglailands of An Khê

The crows, the French called early

Ordered [us] to ascend to An Khê to see the land of the Raglai

After finishing I returned

To tell them what our Raglai neighbors were like

I found two stone elephants

They also have a cow god with Rak and many towers there

Gardens in that land were very good

Delta soil, paddyland and areca better than any other place

One can sow peas anywhere, run grapes and grow sugarcane

There is indigo dyed silk and also coconut

When one sees the tower shrine, it is so beautiful, it makes one want to write poetry

It makes me wonder why the Cham kings left this land and fled

With the kings lost, the Cham people are now without these fruits of plenty

The land was fertile, but they left it miserable

The officers order [us] to search for

And find the towers with collapse door frames

Without statues or steles, as they have also

Been taken away, and only traces remain

We went to find the epigraphyCopying each and every stone, recording all to bring home

As the French ordered us to go to Quảng Ngãi

And the Vietnamese said there were many towers there

As we left, we asked the Yang gods to bless us

If we could find many statues by the grace of the heavens

We travelled for more than three days

Arrived at the foot of the mountains before the last night’s rest

Found the Kinh with whips in hand,

The shortest and ugliest man, said he knew me

He said I must just know

That if I want to go, he can place the request

Because he heard someone had threatened us with a knife

As the gods have given the Kinh the rest of fate

We returned to darkness, and slept, with thanks according to the path

In the morning I put gunpowder in the gun

I finished, and rejoined the French agents

I revealed the whole story the Kinh had told

To the French agent, who then sighed

In Quảng Nam and Quảng Ngãi they have plannedTo raise arms, and prepare to kill us

And once they have they will spread the message

Across the land [in order to] surround [the stronghold], and now they will surely strike

The 20th of June, an attack will hit Huế

At seven the morning, the French officers shot them down at the walls

With enough smoke and fire to obscure the heavens

The Nguyễn soldiers perished as ants,[2][even] horses and elephants did not survive

Then, they breached the ramparts

Soldiers survived, but did not know where to go

At high noon[3] they were first releaved

Hungry, with dark circles, under eyes, unable to stand

Panicked and stumbling, the fell to the ground

So, exhausted they could not stand, stunned by the smell of gunpowder

They crept out from the attack on the citadel

They stood up to find one French soldier

TônThấtThuyếtthen assited the king to flee

Running out to another place

With NguyênSoái spreading the message across the land

How to strike [?], they planned: ten days later

The Nguyễn General came to the WesternersDelivering written commitments, (but) would not dare strike

With seven French ships docked at Huế

Free in the morning, they went to search for and bring back the king

And so we left

On the hlapboat with thirty fathoms of long blue sea

Going to the interior of HảiPhòng

Red as the words of a song someone sings in their hometown

We stayed there for five days on that boat

The Pondicherians and the Westerners built many multi storied houses there

With many Kinh people in that land

The worked swidden and padi, plowed with only one cow

They plowed with a harrow, and do not want to smile

Theyspeak to buffalo dissimilar from the people of BìnhĐịnh

The Kinhwomen wear dresses without buttons

They wear the same belts as men

If they go to market to buy and sell

They also carry [their goods] as we Cham do, with the load not on their shoulders but on their head

There is much rain in that land and little sun

And so they wear hats, with wide brims

These Kinh men don’t wear pants,They wear dyed grass colored shirts, with another loincloth underneath

And they are so numerous, the Kinh, they are like locusts in that land

The poor wear loincloths, they have no pants

Silk dress is only for the rich

And they [the rich] have had pants for just the mandarins

But that river is also much higher than the delta

There is plenty of rice[4] and very little drought

They speak as if they were rose-ringed parakeets

I heard this language, but cannot understand it

[But] that land is very rich

Whatever is wanted, there is no shortage

They love to go and buy arbitrary things

At the market, buying and selling all day, all kinds of things

The land outside the west, densely populated by Jawi

There is one of every kind of villa, they built houses with floors a plenty

And the land is rich with grain in season

Where the poor wear linens as in our Phanrang

Phanrang, PhanRik, Cham, or Bani

The French have taken them, from every part of the countryside

The train [steamboat?] ran day and night (nonstop)They led (us) to arrive at the land of IaMưng

The French agents, and the Kinhgive positions and titles

To defend the hold of IaMưngthe created:QuangKôngXit

The Westerners returned to strike and returned on Sunday

Deployed the ship Salut,day and night, without rest

50 French soldiers were killed in a single day

When they were buried, they were stripped of their clothes

While the French do not leave their dead, no matter who they are

Take off their clothes, and leave them naked

We are so afraid at night we do not sleep

Incapacitated with exhaustion, we are hungry, but cannot swallow

We still pray to the gods for their blessings

If we still have health, there is also gratefulness for our protection

We hear the song of the guns: boomboom

Panicked and unable to speak, we are hungry but cannot swallow

With the assistants praying together, asking the gods and the yang

This area was called by the Kinh coolies: KhaoQuang

In that land, the rafts are used to build houses

Where they live on the water year round, raising chickens and ducks

To go from this house to that one, there is no need to crossOnly a small boat tied to a raft

It goes wherever, morning and night

The canoe and raft, the houses built from wood

We walked a long distance, (days upon) months

(That is) some think it unusual, that I missed you, dear friends and relatives

This travel to see the whole country of the Kinh

With the vestiges of the temples and towers, the relics of the Cham

To protectpriests of both sides, Cham and Bani

Cham customs are still, new and old, part of us

Listed as such, they should also include the words of advice

Keeping the tradition of [our] fathers and grandfathers, do not let these perish

We children today may not understand

Keeping in mind this message, whatever the custom [seek to] understand it

O, all you people, please compare

We honestly do not know all the practices, Cham or Bani

[So] I pray often for life

For Cham and Bani, in all ten regions of the earth

In reality I have not yet been, and will never goTo the region of HarơkKah, which is so far from Hà Nội

Seeing the land outside has made me sad

Why did our father and grandfathers run from that land and leave us to suffer?

France sent arrangements so quickly

They then hire a boat to return to Phanrang anew

From then to now, you[5] work with us

Why do you not understand? Why are you so foolish?

We bow down on our knees and cry

They do not listen and they lead us into the land of Saigon

I feel[6] both sad and angry

Every time I submit the report to them, the scold me as an idiot

They shout toxic words that make me cry

They assigned me to arrest the bad people, cowards

For one month, they hand me my salary, paying me only with slaps in the face

Everyone else got out, and I reported alone

PhanRik has JadharWak [JaThakWa?], Bien Kuw

Treasurer Dah Kaukfeels sorry for the alcoholic Jathauw

Ja-aik, the Po of the village of TrìĐức, and [head] of a well-educated familyGambles and drinks on whatever day

Jamul Cek the villager of Như Ngọc

Jathen Ong at ChấtThườngis always sick

Klum Jiep has gone far away with a heavy heart

I was so sad and skinny and did not want to say anything

Brothers, we have had enough

Chinese with Westerners, their land has wealth that cannot compare

They raise crocodiles, gorillas, deer, bears

Storks, kanong, herons and pelicans

They raise every kind of bird in the forest

Peacocks, pheasants, snails and jungle fowl

They make cages to hold them together and breed them

They catch female tigers and keep them in cages with males, to breed them

Thick Green billed pigeons, Coucal birds, otters and vultures

Jaliha, wild boars and small apes, turkeys

[I] saw them, but afterword could not describe them

Grandmothers and children, lords and ladies, listen but don’t understand

Grandmothers and children, lords and ladies, large children, boys and girls

I also visited one country that was very strangeFrom boys to girls, all wore rings pierced in their nose

This country had no tall people, only short ones

Immersed in black ugly forms, with gold and silver in their noses

Younger girls appeared so ugly

They argued with us, spoke lies without end

A country of shaved heads, spread with ash

Girls, the same as boys, large children too

Men did not wear clothes, only animal skin

Women too, were dressed very harshly

The wore scarves the same as us

[I] (only) found the animal skin was different, with one piece to hold everything in

They had baldness the same as the Chinese

Baggy clothes, that people call JawaAhauk

Only the women had hair

All the men were bald like the Chinese or us when we preform Rija

We also saw one more country

Just a little bit (bus as if) old, tall, only heavy and beat up

(Short-cut off) pants as if they were sufficient size

[Their] clothing was also like this, dark blind ugly boys

I saw two siblings (one older and one younger)Both were boys, The westerners took them to raise them for fun

One country more [,] had [people] with frizzy hair

The Westerners called them Latin, [and] they were terrible beyond words

They had dark skin and wore red clothes

They spoke so harshly, one sees them and hates them already

There was one [more] country, where their skin was darker still

Where no-one had hair, all shaved their heads and wore caps

No matter what ship, they will work for it

With spry mouths, The Westerners call them Melayu

One more country, with shaved heads, who all wear xaro

The Westerners rely upon their country and pirate from it

[Their] skin is thin, even the small are skinny

They dress like opera performers, but that failed as we watched

There is another country where they study AkharBini

The Westerners and the Chinese call this land Java

Their land is very rich

They plant trees along both sides of the boulevards

With mangoes, sesame, jackfruit and every kind of cultivatable tree

The luxurious foliage allows one to play outside without finding it sunny and hot

The curvy streets, straighten up in formOne does that find high or low anywhere, puddles and potholes are filled

There are office buildings and hanging lanterns in the night

To light the way, all sorts of improvements

This land has many Westerners, Java

The urban markets are larger than in other cities

Depending on your whims you can buy

Enough of any kind, grain or fruit

And I found those people ground stone

Using soil mixed with flash* to make the road

They are roads without ox-carts

For wherever you want to go, there is a train or a carriage

So, if one travels there they do not become tired

The crowd of carriages run along only in an instant

As the market sells enough of every kind

Moderately (priced) compared to everywhere else, there is every king of foreign luxury there

I found they had made many rice mills

That pound and grind, and sift altogether at the same place

They make meal in order to sell

The Westerners make iron bridges and boats run below

And then moving on to praise the water systemPlanted, and sweet, but there is no well to be found

And I found Mien (Khmer) people selling them

Although (I) have not yet gone to their area, they spoke with me

I predicted or spoke what was in my heart

That they should tell me what their country was like

But they poorly told me to go places

Speaking of the Cham of that place, they have aged people

They have the nephew of Tuan Phaow, now old

Here life is really difficult for the Cham children in this place

Asking GOD for a long life

And speaking with the Cham and the Bani, who told about many dozens of areas

And many different regions that [I] still have not been to

I unfortunately can not speak about, my family members, ladies and gentlemen!

Taking in many places but remembering

So relatives grandmothers and children, aunts and uncles, take this story

Find out way [I] speak like this

But dare not to admit more [as it would be]

Treacherous for you grandmothers and children, as sinful actions bring misfortune

With thanks to the lord we go to find

(Every kind of everything) around the country to bring this (gift) [I have] given

I think that you grandmothers and children, aunts and unclesIn any country remember but in our desire

Lots of sadness, not knowing which road to take

The French spoke falsely with us, why didn’t we understand

You, aunts and uncles, think to compare

We are little children who still don’t understand how shallow depths and low hills come out

And what the French actually have, they say that they have

Work at the end in agreement with Po Paxeh and Po Acar

But we children are imbecilic

They said that this was not devised, brought and recounted

The French told me to write down on paper

And to date, but they did not speak with me

The French ordered me to calculate work already done,

And with etiquette [I] did not give up, why make such [a complaint?]

Remember what you bring back to tell your grandmothers and children

Aunts and uncles, who you pay the gift of words [to]

Days later I was brought to as the strangers

I said all the words with the grandmothers and the children, aunts and uncles

And the letters (books) collected in all the villages

They put them in an iron casket, they took everything and left


And so the French, what did they say?They did not know how they took everything and where they went, and we did not know either

We always think the more anxious we are

(About their work) along the stone temple towers

I searched until

I could find someone to teach me [AkharBitau]

The French said that country was far away

If you want to learn there, it is your choice younger brother

We were there twenty days

Westerners have so many strange talents, they sent a telegram

Only a good person

Who stood here could send to Mien (Khmer) general to know

They would send the message in advance [and]

(After) three days (I saw) them come to pick us Cham people up

Near that day (they) asked me to distribute the pay

Preparing to take the train and return

We went out to see every kind of boat on the water

We found a priest had gone up, and he called to ask

Brothers, where have you arrived from?

One side asked and one side responded, how to describe the ruins of the Cham towers

Then they said that the country has been lostDisplaced and rotten with nothing surviving

We think that [we are] very lost and cried buckets of tears

Pity eats the water of our eyes, as we sit biting out fingers

The lord does not understand our sadness

We choked on our words, and people ask: why is it like this?

To return to bow down again and cry

(About) the words of the Kinh that they spoke to us to listen to the truth

The French officers stomped their feet and evicted us

(If) [you have] regrets, go to see the old land Marshal

Then they asked: which Kinh spoke?

Down the command ship prepared to take us back to Phan Rang

The French sent us to wait

They have a ship at Phan Rang and how happy they were

Ja-aihPpo with JaThauwthe alcoholic

Goes to play, but lost in the streat, blaming me

Jatheng Ong of village ChấtThường is often sick

Klum Jiephas a beer belly with Ja-aihPpo drunk on rice wine

By the time they return there is new hope for a new beginning

As we ask the gods and saints for health and new blessings

Seeing the eyes of the aunts and uncles immensely welcomingThe French still go with them no matter how much the land or the domain

Insurgents want to kill us brothers and sisters

Yang bless them anew to avoid loss

We asked so many times for help

But we cannot avoid debts in return

The French arrest us, causing much suffering

From morning to night, everywhere to find Cham

The Vietnamese country is prosperous

From the mountains to the streets, everywhere is crowded

Why do they not know GOD [?]

Our lands now belong to them, but why don’t they offer appropriate worship [?]

Towers and temples, they are abandoned

Traces of the gods are now broken

And we go to see [something] really pitiful

Tears don’t dry on the nose, they fall on the road

As we go to see the ancient relics

So numerous, my dear relatives and friends

The Cham and Bani, the future is lost

The country of old has disappeared, and [we] have just sat, watching the heavens

[1] The Vietnamese term rẫy implies a kind of light farming associated frequently with swidden agriculture; in Cham the word is apuh

[2] Perished as ants is a metaphor to explain that the Nguyễn soldiers perished easily and in large numbers

[3] When the sun makes a right angle with the earth. According to Vietnamese culture, Buddhist monks (thầyphậttử) must eat at this time of day which is also called đúngngọ.

[4]In Vietnamese lúa is a particular term that refers to the fresh rice that cannot be eaten

[5] In this sense the French were referring to the Cham people as lesser by using the term mầy

[6] Sentiment in Vietnamese is often expressed through the stomach: bụngtôinửabuồnnửagiậnliterally means: my stomach is both sad and angry

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