Teaching verses from a Simbu classroom of 30 years ago
Amazing Grace: a story of horror, tragedy & survival

Dispela nait i no gutpela tumas


Dispela nait i no gutpela tumas
Bel bilong mi nogat hamamas
Mi silip long bet wantaim aiwara
Mi tanim tanim olsem kanu antap long solwara
Oloman! Tanim tanim lo nait igo tulait buruk
Em i narakain turu

The night is torn
My heart, now forlorn
On my bed, I am in tears
Restless like a canoe in open seas
My! Oh! My! Unsettled till break of dawn
A moment now gone

Dispela nait i no gutpela tumas
Driman nogut i wokim mi maus pas
Mi save tewel blong nait sanap autsait
Mi lukim ol burukim dua na kam insait
Oloman! Mi tromoi han na lek
Em nau mi singaut long nek

The night, unnerving
A night terror, my voice drowning
Those lurking shadows are here now
Through the door they come slow
My! Oh! My! I punched and I kicked
And finally, my voice is thick

Dispela nait i no gutpela tumas
Mi wok tingim meri hap kas
Em bin lukluk long mi narakain
Na lewa blong mi kalap seim taim
Oloman! Ai silip i ronowe
Na tingting tu go long we

The night, heart-rending
This maiden of two cultures had me longing
She looked at me knowingly
My heart leapt momentarily
My! Oh! My! My sleep evaporate
My thoughts now, stimulate

Dispela nait i no gutpela tumas
Hevi blong graun i antap tumas
Em mi het pen na pulim win i hat
Na tingting kilim mi na mi tuhat
Oloman! Ples tutak na tingting i sot
Na mi yet, faul pinis long rot

This night, suffocating
The burdens of life crushing
Giving me headaches, I’m breathless
In cold sweat and depressed
My! Oh! My! In this darkness, I break
I lost sense of the road I must take


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Raymond Sigimet

Thank you Phil. Appreciate your comment. It was done the other way around. As you have concluded, it was indeed an experiment to capture the different emotions expressed in English in the first line of each stanza using the same simple Tok Pisin line which also served as the title.

Raymond Sigimet

Thank you Michael for your comment. Appreciate your input into this piece. You are right in saying that it's quite unnerving when we try to merge the simplistic Tok Pisin with the sophisticated English.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I suspect that Raymond wrote the verse in English first and then translated it into Tok Pisin. That's always difficult. If you write in Tok Pisin first and then do the English translation the whole contextual thing turns around.

Maybe English translations are superfluous in Tok Pisin prose and poetry?

When I read poems like this I tend to either read just the Tok Pisin or just the English. To interpose the translation straight after each verse is a distraction I think.

This is a great poem in English but I'm not so sure about the Tok Pisin version. If it had been written in Tok Pisin first I think my comment would be the other way around.

It's interesting to experiment though.

Michael Dom

Good stuff, Raymond, although there's a lot more brought out in your English interpretations than in the Tok Pisin, where the contextual meaning of the words have been sacrificed for rhyming.

Translating is much like a maiden of two cultures for which some nights can be quite unnerving.

Raymond Sigimet

Thank you Chris. Appreciate your comment.

Chris Overland

Brilliant Raymond. A fantastically good poem and exemplar of how Pidgin can be used to express complex thoughts and emotions.


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