This man: Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew was the first Prime Minister of Singapore. He was a greatly admired leader and was a force to be reckoned with, in these parts of Asia. He had his fair share of positives and negatives, as does any human. But his reputation as one of the greatest leaders in history is well-deserved, as evidenced by the hundreds of people who turned up under umbrellas and lined the streets on a rainy day, to show their respects during his funeral procession.

My friend’s sister wrote a poem in Tamil in his honor and I have tried to translate and recreate its meaning in English. I hope you get to see his greatness through our words and are inspired to know more about him, his legacy and his Singapore.

This man
Our very own
Iron-man
Our treasure
Our savior
Lost too soon
To the wiles of time.
 
This man
Our very own
Force of resistance
Our immunity
Against the evil
That threatened
To cloud the nation.
 
This man
Our very own
Warrior
Before whom
The ghosts of failure
Scattered into smoke
Decayed into dust.
 
This man
Our very own
Lethal legend
Who brought back
From the brink
Of decline and demise
And let this nation
Strive and thrive.
 
This man
Our very own
Revolutionary
Radical leader
Who gave us
The Tamil tribe
A home and haven
An island and identity.
 
This man
Our very own
Keeper
Nourisher
Who served and sacrificed
To forge this red dot
Into an exemplar
Of trials and terrific triumphs. 
 
This man
Our very own
Messiah
A timeless titan
Who vowed
To rise from the dead
To vanquish future misery
To punish the sinners
Who dared to harm
His precious nation
His beloved people.
 
This man
Our very own
Father
A fearless leader
Admired, respected
By the whole wide world
Seemed immortal
In his glory
But passed away
Humbled by life’s mortality.
 
Dearest Sir
Our Lee Kuan Yew
Can you hear
This nation’s hearts
Beating as one
Celebrating your life
Unwilling to let go
Of your legacy
But bidding farewell
A final applause
Before you leave
To rest in peace.
 

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