John Keay

On the Tiger Trail

Golden Parasol: A Daughter’s Memoir of Burma

By

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To clear the way for his unusually long and prosperous reign, the 12th-century King Narapati-sithu of Pagan disposed of an entire regime, including his ruling brother, numerous other family members, their supporters and courtiers and, finally, the late king’s tutor. The tutor was Anantathuriya, a renowned Burmese poet who, while awaiting sentence of death, composed such moving verses that the king relented. A stay of execution was ordered; but alas, it was too late. The poet had been beheaded before his reprieve was heeded. Only his poem survived, an elegy on remorse and the transitory nature of life well suited to haunting both the king and the pagoda-strewn ruins that Pagan soon became.

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