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A Than-Bauk is a type of poem that comes from the Bamar people, who are the most numerous of the ethnic groups that call the state of Myanmar home. This is an important distinction because while the culture of the Bamar people exerts enormous influence over the culture of Myanmar as a whole, the two are not quite one and the same. Regardless, the than-bauk is interesting in the sense that it is a study in contrasts. On the one hand, there are strict rules on the number of lines, the number of words in each line, and even the rhyming scheme for such poems. On the other hand, a than-bauk is expected to show a sense of cleverness that can often result in humor. With that said, while the than-bauk is an old form of poetry that has deep roots in the culture of the Bamar people, it has remained prevalent in the present, meaning that modern examples might not always live up to traditional expectations. 

A Than-Bauk, conventionally a witty saying or epigram, is a three line "climbing rhyme" poem of Burmese origin. Each line has four syllables. The rhyme is on the fourth syllable of the first line, the third syllable of the second line, and the second syllable of the third line.


Lighten Up

Turn on the lights;
don't let sights of
dark nights haunt you.



The night was cold
so I'm told when
the old man died.

© Copyright Suzanne Honour 2002-2003

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