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On Lake Inle, in Shan State, Myanmar

Karl Constantine FOLKES 1935 (Portland)

On Lake Inle, in a small motorboat,
in Nyaungshwe Township.
There — on a freshwater lake,
in lovely Shan State,
nested in magestic Shan Hills
There — I’m ferried by local fishermen
on cool freshwater at 2,900 feet.

It’s early Winter and the air is cool
as I brace myself with a woolen scarf,
enjoying the tranquil view
of local fishermen passing to and fro
with their distinctive style of rowing.
Standing firmly at the stern.

One leg wrapping the other,
as they propel themselves forward
on a lake covered by reeds
adorned with floating water lilies
and the lively lotus of the lake.

With speechless awe I observe
the passing view before me.
A parade of simple wooden houses
rising bravely above the lake …

Wooden bamboo houses
posed on bamboo stilts,
built by self-sufficient farmers
to comprise their nuclei of villages.
The villages of a multilingual people,
of a multilingual tribal people.

There — in Nyaungshwe Township …
There — on Lake Inle, in Shan State,
overlooking Shan Hills
at elevation of 2,900 feet,
I am greeted.

I am greeted by the tribal villagers:
The Intha, Shan, and Taung Yo …
The Danu, Pa-O, and Kayah…

These villagers
These fishermen and women
These farmers and merchants
These natives of the lake …
These royal hosts and hostesses
greet me.

They greet me serving me …
Serving up a popular dish …
Their local dish of htamin gyin …
So deliciously made
of fermented rice kneaded with fish
and cooked with soft potato.

A meal topped off with fried Shan tofu,
the popular local dish
that goes by the name of hnapyan gyaw.

Oh, surely, surely I must declare,
the pleasure it gives to be right there
at Lake Inle in lovely Shan State
where a traveler has need to prate
about a view nature gave us all,
there, in Lake Inle, where cool waters fall.

About this poem

In the early Fall of 2013, accompanied by my Karen/Kayin wife, our son Bryan and his son, Xavi, our daughter, Kaleila-Maida Ngwekhin, and her four young children (all together, our five grandchildren), we traveled on a family vacation to visit family members living in Myanmar, and to tour the country as well. Although I, as a Jamaican, had traveled to Myanmar (Burma) on other family visits, this particular visit would be the first time I would visit Inle Lake in Shan State. My memory of that visit is what I have composed in poetry. For tourists and for other visitors familiar with the Inle region, it should come as no surprise that lotus weaving is a distinctive local art industry that is associated particularly with that region of the country. Lake Inle is an idyllic picturesque site that is decorated with floating villages, and with leg rowing fishermen, at a magical landscape that is set aside a mountain. The lake is teeming with a rich variety of fish, and the surface of the lake literally dances with water lilies and floating lotus, their fibers producing the finest thread to make fashionable Inle lotus silk fabrics. Mountainous Lake Inle is recognized worldwide as a source of the finest precious brands of high fashion silk ware in today’s world market industry of haute couture. 

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Written on September 16, 2022

Submitted by karlcfolkes on September 16, 2022

Modified by karlcfolkes

1:48 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 1,828
Words 362
Stanzas 11
Stanza Lengths 7, 6, 5, 4, 6, 5, 3, 6, 6, 3, 6

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1995 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s “Dear Mili” Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

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    "On Lake Inle, in Shan State, Myanmar" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 26 Mar. 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/137807/on-lake-inle,-in-shan-state,-myanmar>.

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