Menjelang 1 Mei

Approach to Mukah

A rousing poem in Bahasa Malaysia from student of agriculture Chairil Aswad, on twitter as @schwarzenmann.  First published in E-Sastera Sajak Facebook group, 30 April 2015. Translation into Inggeris mine.  Views expressed are not etc etc.

Celebrating May 1

[two_first]

(For Lia)

The city is no longer the place
for me to record my poems of struggle
slogans, banners or observations
and it is not the place
for a degree in agriculture
stuffed and mounted like a corpse
on a mahogany cabinet
in an air-conditioned office

the city is no longer my home
long have I left the air-conditioned office

in front of me today
farm-folk and fisher-people
awaiting their stories
to be scrawled upon pages and pages
to become a single poem of advocacy

this far corner of the world is my home now
a banana packing shed for an office building

I have left the city
to liberate farm folk
from the control of the greedy
who freeze their subsidies
and replace them with GST

[/two_first][two_second]

(untuk Lia)

Kota itu bukan lagi tempatnya
untuk aku merakamkan puisi perlawanan
slogan-slogan, sepanduk serta tangkapan
seperti juga bukan tempatnya
sekeping ijazah pertanian
dibingkaikan dan dipamer
atas kabinet mahogani
bilik pejabat berhawa dingin

kota itu tidak lagi menjadi rumahku
bilik pejabat sudah lama aku tinggalkan

di hadapanku hari ini
kaum tani dan nelayan
menantikan cerita mereka
dicoret pada helaian-helaian
menjadi sebuah puisi pembelaan

ceruk perdesaan ini adalah rumahku kini
pondok pisang sesikat sebagai bangunan pejabat
aku tinggalkan kota
untuk memandiri kaum tani
ketika penguasa rakus
menghentikan subsidi
diganti dengan GST

[/two_second]

On Children

The Prophet, Khalil Gibran

[one_two_one_first]

[/one_two_one_first][one_two_one_second]

[dropcap background=”yes”]A[/dropcap]nd a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.”

And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
[/one_two_one_second][one_two_one_third]

[/one_two_one_third]

 

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One of my mother’s favorite poems, from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

 

 

Gurindam 12 Fasal 6

old house

by Raja Ali Haji (1808-1873)
English translation © Bin Gregory Productions

[two_first]
This is the gurindam of the sixth issue:

Seek you a companion
Who can be for you a medicine.

Seek you a guru
Who can teach every enemy to you.

Seek you a wife
Who can devote to you her life.

Seek you a friend.
Choose one loyal to the end.

Seek you a servant
Whose manners are decent.[/two_first][two_second]

Ini gurindam pasal yang keenam:

Cahari olehmu akan sahabat,
yang boleh dijadikan obat.

Cahari olehmu akan guru,
yang boleh tahukan tiap seteru.

Cahari olehmu akan isteri,
yang boleh menyerahkan diri.

Cahari olehmu akan kawan,
pilih segala orang yang setiawan.

Cahari olehmu akan abdi,
yang ada baik sedikit budi.[/two_second]

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Raja_Ali_HajiGurindam Dua Belas is a 19th century Malay poem written in rhyming couplets with free meter. It has 12 parts, each dealing with a different pasal, or issue. It was composed by Raja Ali Haji (1808-1873), an intellectual of the Riau-Lingga court best known for his history Tuhfat al-Nafis (the Precious Gift). I’ll be posting my translations pasal by pasal.

Gurindam of the First Issue

Gurindam of the Second Issue

Gurindam of the Third Issue

Gurindam of the Fourth Issue

Gurindam of the Fifth Issue

Gurindam 12 Fasal 5

Maqam at Masjid Bahagian Kuching

by Raja Ali Haji (1808-1873)

[two_first]

This is the gurindam of the fifth issue:

If you wish to know the people of high birth,
in manners and speech are shown their worth.

To know the people of happiness,
avoid involvement in the meaningless.

To know the man of high distinction,
look upon his deeds and actions.

If you wish to know the people of wisdom
ask and learn without feeling boredom.

If those with intellect you would know
store provisions now in this life below.

If men of character you would recognize
among the masses observe how they fraternize.

[/two_first][two_second]

Ini gurindam pasal yang kelima:

Jika hendak mengenal orang berbangsa,
lihat kepada budi dan bahasa.

Jika hendak mengenal orang yang berbahagia,
sangat memeliharakan yang sia-sia.

Jika hendak mengenal orang mulia,
lihatlah kepada kelakuan dia.

Jika hendak mengenal orang yang berilmu,
bertanya dan belajar tiadalah jemu.

Jika hendak mengenal orang yang berakal,
di dalam dunia mengambil bekal.

Jika hendak mengenal orang yang baik perangai,
lihat pada ketika bercampur dengan orang ramai.

[/two_second]

[divider type=”thin”]

Raja_Ali_HajiGurindam Dua Belas is a 19th century Malay poem written in rhyming couplets with free meter. It has 12 parts, each dealing with a different pasal, or issue. It was composed by Raja Ali Haji (1808-1873), an intellectual of the Riau-Lingga court best known for his history Tuhfat al-Nafis (the Precious Gift). I’ll be posting my translations pasal by pasal.

Gurindam of the First Issue

Gurindam of the Second Issue

Gurindam of the Third Issue

Gurindam of the Fourth Issue

Gurindam not dead: Gadis Jolobu

Here I thought I was laboring in obscurity translating 19th century Malay teaching-poems, when behold, Gurindams get a name-check on the radio. Check this out:

Gadis Jolobu
Produced by DJ Fuzz
Lyrics by Waris & Dato Hattan

Chorus:

Ko jolobak ko jolbu
Tuai padi tigo tangkai
Kalau kono komat jolobu
Tak mati badan menghasai
Gurindam dulu dulu jangan ponah dipotikai
Tak tahu tanyo dulu jangan goma memanadai mandai

On the way to Jelebu
To reap three-stalked rice [1]
If the Jelebu mojo hits you
won’t die but you’re bound to suffer
Don’t you ever disrespect the old Gurindams [2]
Better ask somebody, don’t act like you know

Verse 1:

Kisah eh bermulo,mulut ughang kampong
Kisah ramai gadis cantik kek jolobu berkampung
Ughang luar datang luar nak cari’an joki
Lain pulak jadi eh terpikek nak buek bini
Tapi silap,kono komat sampai tinggalkan keluargo
Kopit bawah kotiak bini tanggungjawab lupo
Omak ayah rindu tapi dio buek bodoh
Dah takdo monyosa monangih dopan kubur aiii

The story starts from the mouths of villagers
The story of all the gorgeous women of Jelebu village
An outsider came looking for work
Turned out different: got hooked, took a wife
Her mojo got him, abandoned his folks
Stuck under his woman’s armpit, responsibilities forgotten
His mom and dad longed for him but he played dumb
Now they’re gone: he cries at their grave in regret

Chorus.

Verse 2:

Ughang luar salah tafsir koba gadih kito bahayo
Lopeh coghai semuo ghoto jadi milik dio
Jangan salah anggap,napo lobihkan pompuan
Sobab laki boleh hidup kalau campak dlm hutan
Zaman dah boghubah, adat di tolan zaman
Dah takdo mewaghisi coghito bertauladan
Apotah laie, mengaku ughang nogori
Bilo tanyo suku mano nak jawab pun tak ghoti

Poie tanyo omak,poie tanyo uwan
Kok takdo kosompatan buleh tanyo kawan kawan
Aktiviti bergurindam tolah lonyap dilupokan
“sebagai suatu warisan”

Outsiders get confused, saying our women are dangerous
Divorce one and your assets are hers [3]
Don’t misunderstand why our women get the upper hand
Throw a Nine Clan man in the jungle and he can still get by
Times have changed, culture swallowed by the times
No one left to inherit the teaching-tales
What more when someone claims to be from Nine Clans
Ask him which clan: he can’t begin to answer.

Go ask your momma, go ask your grampa too
If that doesn’t work well then your friends will have to do
Spinning Gurindams is an art form long forgot
As a part of our heritage

Chorus.

Verse 3:

Wak wak makan padi si lomang dalam buluh
Kok dah dapek yg dicari jgn terlansung semayang subuh
Ayam berkokok umah ponghulu itu tando haghi nak siang
Kok dah dapek oghang jolobu tak sabar nunggu malam ko siang

Waterhens eat field-rice, bamboo’s filled with lemang [4]
If you get what you’re after, don’t oversleep the dawn prayer. [5]
The headman’s roosters crow, that’s the sign the day dawns
Night or day you cannot wait once you get a Jelebu woman.

Verse 2 repeats.
Chorus.

Fin.

____________________________

1. Rice is harvested when it has 5-10 stalks, or tillers. Harvesting 3-tillered rice is suggestive of misfortune.
2. Here at Bin Gregory Productions, we are all about respecting the old Gurindams. See the Gurindam 12 of Raja Ali Haji Pasal One, Two, Three and Four.
3. The flow is in the thick regional dialect of Negeri Sembilan, a state settled by Minangkabau people who practiced some elements of matriarchal inheritance. The state has nine clan or tribal districts, from whence the name in the following line above.
4. For more on lemang, see here and here. The verse may be referring to the siamang, a type of gibbon, in which case “gibbon’s in the bamboo”.
5. Surely I don’t have to spell it out for you.

Gurindam 12 Fasal 4

The 12 Gurindam of Raja Ali Haji

___________________________

This is the Gurindam of the fourth issue:

Ini gurindam pasal yang keempat:

The heart over the body rules all;
if it oppresses, every part falls.

Hati kerajaan di dalam tubuh,
jikalau zalim segala anggota pun roboh.

Whenever jealousy has been sown,
shoot forth a multitude of arrows.

Apabila dengki sudah bertanah,
datanglah daripadanya beberapa anak panah.

In cursing and praising pause first to think;
it is there that many sink.

Mengumpat dan memuji hendaklah pikir,
di situlah banyak orang yang tergelincir.

When in anger, act not upon it;
that is how to lose your wits.

Pekerjaan marah jangan dibela,
nanti hilang akal di kepala.

The smallest lie or abuse of trust
is like a mouth dripping of pus.

Jika sedikitpun berbuat bohong,
boleh diumpamakan mulutnya itu pekong.

It is a sign of a man most cursed
who considers not his honor first.

Tanda orang yang amat celaka,
aib dirinya tiada ia sangka.

To miserliness do not give leave;
it is stronger than a pack of thieves.

Bakhil jangan diberi singgah,
itupun perampok yang amat gagah.

Whosoever has reached to greatness
should behave in a way free of coarseness.

Barang siapa yang sudah besar,
janganlah kelakuannya membuat kasar.

Those who love to speak filth
have a spittoon and not a mouth.

Barang siapa perkataan kotor,
mulutnya itu umpama ketur.

Yet our own faults we cannot know
if not to us by others shown.

Di mana tahu salah diri,
jika tidak orang lain yang berperi.

______________________

Raja_Ali_HajiGurindam Dua Belas is a 19th century Malay poem written in rhyming couplets with free meter. It has 12 parts, each dealing with a different pasal, or issue. It was composed by Raja Ali Haji (1808-1873), an intellectual of the Riau-Lingga court best known for his history Tuhfat al-Nafis (the Precious Gift). I’ll be posting my translations pasal by pasal.

Gurindam of the First Issue

Gurindam of the Second Issue

Gurindam of the Third Issue

Gurindam 12 Fasal 3

The 12 Gurindam of Raja Ali Haji

_______________________
This is the gurindam of the third issue:

Ini gurindam pasal yang ketiga:

When we guard the eyes,
Idle fantasy is minimized.

Apabila terpelihara mata,
sedikitlah cita-cita.

When we guard the ears,
Evil gossip cannot come near.

Apabila terpelihara kuping,
khabar yang jahat tiadalah damping.

When we guard our tongues
We ensure good outcomes.

Apabila terpelihara lidah,
nescaya dapat daripadanya faedah.

Guard your hands carefully
from sins both light and heavy.

Bersungguh-sungguh engkau memeliharakan tangan,
daripada segala berat dan ringan.

When the belly is too full
What it produces is distasteful.

Apabila perut terlalu penuh,
keluarlah fi’il yang tiada senonoh.

Take heed of the middle part,
it is there that many men lose heart.

Anggota tengah hendaklah ingat,
di situlah banyak orang yang hilang semangat.

Guard well the feet
from walking the pathway to defeat.

Hendaklah peliharakan kaki,
daripada berjalan yang membawa rugi.

 

______________________

Raja_Ali_HajiGurindam Dua Belas is a 19th century Malay poem written in rhyming couplets with free meter. It has 12 parts, each dealing with a different pasal, or issue. It was composed by Raja Ali Haji (1808-1873), an intellectual of the Riau-Lingga court best known for his history Tuhfat al-Nafis (the Precious Gift).  I’ll be posting my translations pasal by pasal.

Gurindam of the First Issue

Gurindam of the Second Issue

International Poetry Translated

If you’ve enjoyed my feeble attempts to translate Malay poems and songs over the years, perhaps you’d like the Poetry Translation Centre.  Contemporary poets of Asia, Africa and South America are translated into English by a two-step process: a native speaker translates the words literally, then the poets of PTC render it in poetic English.  It looks very faithfully done, unlike how Coleman Barks does Rumi, where he “interprets” Rumi based on his own inspiration after reading Arberry’s translation.  There are no Malaysian poets translated by the PTC as yet.  If you are a native BM speaker, you should submit!