Three Days of Abandonment, the Lady’s Heart Changes – Or the Man’s?


/sǎam wan jàak naa-rii pen ùuen/

That’s a common saying, which literally says: “Leave a woman for three days, the heart changes.” It comes from a verse in the style of โคลงสี่สุภาพ /khloong sìi sù-phâap/ which is way too complicated for me to explain, not so much into poetry as I am. (Anyone interested can read more about it here — it’s in Thai though.)

I’ve abandoned my blog for five days, because I’ve been slogging over a major report and when I had a break I was hanging out at the Thai Language forum and the Ladies forum on — talking about such things and others (and stressing out over the political situation). And the verse which is the source of the saying mentioned also has something to say about leaving learning (and writing) for five days. Here goes (again with my clumsy translation, much wanting poetic flair, and please forgive my flouting of the composition rules in the translation):

๏เจ็ดวันเว้นดีดซ้อม ……….ดนตรี
Pause practice, seven days …….. of music

อักขระห้าวันหนี ……………..เนิ่นช้า
Leave letters, five days makes learnin’ ……… sluggish surely

สามวันจากนารี ………………เป็นอื่น
Depart a woman, three days, the heart ………… displaces

วันหนึ่งเว้นล้างหน้า …………อับเศร้าศรีหมอง
Miss face washing just one day ….…….. one looks sadly dull.

Source: โคลงโลกนิติ /khoong lôok-kà-nít/ composed by Prince Dejadisorn (สมเด็จพระเจ้าบรมวงศ์เธอ กรมพระยาเดชาดิศร).

The moral of the verse is persistence and perseverance; whatever you do, you keep at it, otherwise it goes sideways. In other words, practice makes perfect.  (This poems is taught to lower secondary students.)

Now, anyone who is familiar with Thai language might have heard this saying, from the third line of the poem.

สามวันจากนารี ………………เป็นอื่น
Depart a woman, three days, the heart ………… displaces

This line has often been used to mean that a woman changes after being left for three days by a man. But if you look at the structure of the poem, this interpretation is debatable.

On the one hand, the composer of the poem meant to teach the reader that when you do something you have to persevere, so you might interpret the meaning in this way:

If you stop practicing music for 7 days, [the music leaves you],

If you leave letters (reading and writing) for 5 days, the knowledge deserts you,

If you leave a woman for 3 days, the woman changes and deserts you too,

If you don’t wash your face just 1 day, the [unwashed] face leaves you unattractive and dull.

On the other hand, the composer also taught personal responsibility. Though the line does not say clearly who or whose heart changes or displaces, the word break pattern suggests it could be the man who changes because, we can interpret that

If you stop practicing music for 7 days, [you forget the music],

If you leave letters for 5 days, you become slow at learning,

If you leave a woman for 3 days, you change,

If you don’t wash your face just 1 day, you look sadly dull.

Thai language often omits subjects, so sometimes it can either give you a headache or a subject for an interesting debate like this. 🙂

4 responses to “Three Days of Abandonment, the Lady’s Heart Changes – Or the Man’s?

  1. Thanks for your comment. I became interested in learning more Thai when I returned from overseas. I got into finding out the deeper meanings in Thai words and expressions that tell me more about Thai language and culture. This expression was one such — when I thought of it, I searched for where it came from and try to understand it better.

    Obviously I didn’t do a good job of explaining in this article. Please ask away.

  2. Kaewmala,
    When I first read it I took the line

    “Depart a woman, three days, the heart ………… displaces”

    as the woman losing interest, as you pointed out, but after reading the rest and thinking about it more I can see where it could be the man changing.

    After thinking about it even more I think it is from the mans standpoint it seems as if the author is talking to a man with that line.

    I really like the verse as it rings true in many ways.

  3. I’m not sure which one it could be, but just reading about the possible options in Thai writing is interesting (and confusing at the same time).

  4. I think the proverb สามวันจากนารีเป็นอื่น has another deeper meaning. Leave your young (=new) love for 3 days and you will see a little clearer where you belong. That is certainly true for a very new romance. 3 days, a period of prove? Could be…
    It says after 3 days it will be different. It does not say weakened or enhanced. Some love grows stronger, some becomes weaker.

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