Sunthorn Poo reading

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Many Thai literature experts like Dr. Maneepin in the faculty of Arts of Silapakorn University agree that the main character and hero of the story, Pra apai manee is Suntorn Phoo in his own eyes.

“Praapai manee was a musician and Suntorn Phoo was a poet. In those days, court poets had to be musically inclined as the poetry was music. Not only this, but the hero’s playboy characteristics closely resembled the life style of the poet himself”

When asked which love affair most reflected the poet’s personal life in the story, Dr. Maneepin answered,

“In my personal opinion, I think the affair between Praaphai Manee and Pee Sua Sumut, the gigantic sea monster resembles Suntorn’s feelings about the the ferocious side of his first love, Mae Jun.”

Suntorn Phoo was born Monday, June 26, 1786 , during the first reign of the Chakri dynasty at a house near the walls of the back palace off of the Bangkok Noy canal of Ratanakosin city. Shortly after birth, his parents split up. His father went off to the monk hood in Muang Glaeng in Rayong. His mother became a milk nurse at the back palace where Phoo grew up and was educated.

His early start in the palace brought him to learn many nobles and royalties that would later secure his status as a royal poet . He fell in love with one of the king’s servants known as Mae Jun which would prove to become a rough love. Aside from the problem that Mae Jun was a direct female servant of the king, Suntorn Phoo was like the ‘butterfly’ which enjoyed the pollen and nectar from various flowers—leading to many quarrels with Mae Jun. His quarrelling wasn’t confined to his love life. He had a drinking problem and would fight with many other people in the palace. This even caused him to be imprisoned for a short period.

At roughly twenty years old, he left the palace in search for his long lost father at Muang Glaeng. He would eventually return to Bangkok to work in the palace of Rama 2. Suntorn Phoo was considered the favorite poet of the king and even partnered the king in composing the famous Khun Chang, Khun Paen. The third king wasn’t so favorable of the poet, but in his old age, Suntorn was recognized by King Mongkut (Rama 4) with a royal rank.

It was during his many travels as a royal poet that he composed his Nirat.. A nirat is a traditional Thai poetic song usually inspired by long travels and missed love. The writer is the main character. It is from his many Nirat that we know not only the way of life during that time, but the personal feelings and story of Suntorn Phoo. His first Nirat known as Nirat Muang Glaeng was composed during his visit to Rayong in search of his long lost father. Perhaps the most popular of Suntorn Phoo’s Nirat is Nirat Poo Kao Tong, written during his travels to the Golden mountain shrine in Ayuthya. This is considered his personal autobiography

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