Art and Culture

 Dr. Puey as a poet

To mother, I am grateful

Raising me with full integrity

Not only me in school she put

Conduct and honesty I learnt from her

 

My life has been full two cycles

I’ll make a simple pledging

Embrace as principle perseverance

Until success brings her pride in me

 

Born a man I stand ready

To do things morally righteous

Till my life’s finally ended

It shall be obvious the world acclaims

 

Originally composed in Thai

-Translation by C. Watanagase

This is the pledge made by Dr. Puey in Thai-style four-line poem when he reached the age of 24 years on 9 March 1940.

He was very knowledgeable in Thai language and able to command it. Apart from speaking and writing prose precisely to be easily understandable, he was also very good at composing Thai poems.

While attending university in England, he has composed “Journey to Bradford” in another Thai-style eight-word per line poem, excerpted as follows:

 

“…………………………………

Boarding so oddly in a flat

Departed from that old living

Not lying on floor, but in bed

 

Dishwashing I used cold water

Face cleanser always cooled my head

Now it’s warm water I was led

To believe in what said is clean

 

Meal dishes I used were rusty

…………………………………”



Originally composed in Thai

-Translation by C. Watanagase

 

A wordsmith as always throughout his life, he also used capacity in poetical writings at work, for example, in 1963 on the fourth anniversary of Bureau of the Budget, he composed 11-syllable per line Yanee poem for its slogan:



Bureau of Budget It’s been set for four years

“Yanee” I wrote here A gift deep from my heart

May all my colleagues Those at peak, bottom part

Be well, wealthy and smart Stay apart from all sins

Working in public Should be strict on principle

Progress as destined Try to win honestly

Be fair, go by rules Support pooled in friendly

Courageous always So all may benefit

Service with your help Above self, you commit

In high spirit Never quit doing well



Originally composed in Thai

-Translation by C. Watanagase

 

Moreover, when he has already become dean of Faculty of Economics, in 1966 he composed the following four-line poem expressing the meaning of “graduate”1 in the Economics Class of 1966 memorial book as follows:


Pundit with conscience beware

Stand firm, never sway veering

Determined, always resolute

Uphold one’s vowing truthful always

Originally composed in Thai

-Translation by C. Watanagase


Later on, in 1967 on the 54th anniversary of the Government Savings Bank, he composed eight-word per line poem to support the “Week of Savings” as follows:

Our money we save behave well

Interest’s compelled compound there

Client’s funds bundled in our care

Bank’s saving affairs fare thriving

 

Originally composed in Thai

-Translation by C. Watanagase

 

While attending the annual parties of the Thai Bankers Association during his tenure as the Governor of the Bank of Thailand, Dr. Puey took the opportunity to declare his wishes in beautiful poems for commercial banks to make improvement and response to the policy, for example, an excerpt from his 1964 speech in eight-word per line poem as follows:



…one item remains a mystery

The power-that-be2 said his wish

I agreed that we’re not cold fish

So we dish some idea upon it

Anyone with high rank-and-file

All the while doesn’t reap benefit

From commerce or trade that admit

Bureaucrats to commit on benefit

Not certain what trade’s targeted

It’s a threat that he warned us all

In banking, be it big or small

It’s appalled to exempt them always…

Originally composed in Thai

-Translation by C. Watanagase

 

And again an excerpt from his 1966 speech in 11-syllable per line Yanee poem:

 

I have a query on money and interest

When would it be rest to a point that’s lower?

Profit’s your concern, but should earn as proper

Reduce cost to prosper in a growth economy

 

Originally composed in Thai

-Translation by C. Watanagase



Dr. Puey and music and as a musician



Sulak Sivaraksa wrote about him on this matter as follows:

“Khun Puey loved listening to Thai music. Even while abroad, he would turn on Thai classical music. When driving in Thailand, he also listened to Thai classical music at the same time. As for the musical instrument, he always played flute.

Very often when I visited him after work following his return from Thammasat to clear up work accumulated at the Bank, I found that while he was wrinkling his brows in deep thought over documents after documents in front of him, he was also listening to Thai classical music tape winding itself in a large tape deck player, all of them in big stacks of Thai music tapes waiting in turn to be played one after another.”



Dr. Puey and art

Apart from being a wordsmith and lover of Thai music, he was also interested in art, including also modern art, and was instrumental in helping to raise fund for the construction of Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art as the first art exhibition place for both Thai artists and national artists.

Madam Misiem Yipintsoi, the late senior prominent sculptor and painter of Thailand wrote in her 1985 memoir as follows:

“Professor Silpa Bhirasri (Corrado Feroci), the founder of modern art in Thailand, commented in his article on the matter of Silpakorn University not having its own gallery and when foreign visitors asked to see the works of art by Thai artists, he had to look around for those university-owned award-winning works of art scattering around and they had to be cleaned up or dusted off, making him very embarrassed.

He once complained to me about how to obtain the fund, the budget was out of question, he was very depressed and wrote an article in one art journal. Dr. Puey happened to read that article and came to see him asking about his plan and the fund required. Prof. Silpa replied that it was all in his head and thought that if he could expand his office to the parking lot, about one hundred thousand bahts would suffice for the purpose.

In his sympathy and interest in art, Dr. Puey advised Prof. Silpa to round up his former students and held an exhibition to sell works of art. The proceeds would go into the project at least half of the required fund and the other half shall be matched by Dr. Puey himself. Unfortunately, Prof. Silpa passed away before commencing to do anything.

To this day, I kept telling the new generation of artists that they should keep Dr. Puey in mind, without him we would never have the Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art as the first one in Thailand. After the Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art, the National Gallery had been established and later on when Silpakorn University had acquired the ownership of the palace, it then built the University Gallery.”

Dr. Puey said about Prof. Silpa as follows: “The beneficence from Prof. Silpa to the art circle in Thailand was immense. Even a non-artist like me felt gratitude for his gracefulness all along.”



Dr. Puey was an economist who deeply appreciated the value of the works of art. On the occasion of the anniversary of opening the Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art on 14 May 1975, he wrote that:

“For any community neglecting the beauty and art, such community would never be completely developed. For any community paying attention to cultivate the arts and sciences, such community would attain prosperity, not only in art but also in virtue and truthfulness which are the elements of humanity peacefulness in the community.”