Language, Nation

By Muhammad Yamin, 1921

What you have inherited from your fathers,

earn over again for yourselves or it will not be yours.


While still small and young in years
The little child slept in her mother’s lap.
She sang soft melodies and lullabies
Whispered soft praises for the child;

Rocking the loved one night and day
Basket hanging in the ancestors’ land
Born of the nation, with her own language

Flanked by family right and left,
Raised in the customs of the Malay lands
With sadness and joy, and loving kindness;
The feeling of union becoming one,
In her language, beautiful sweet sound.

Wailing and crying with great happiness
Joyful in struggle and youth;
We breathe the emanation of our life,
Our language the extension of our soul,
Wherever Sumatra is, there is the nation,
Wherever the Patchwork is, there is our language.

My beloved Andalas, vase-shaped isle,
From the time of childhood,
Until death at rest in the earth
We shall never forget our language.
Remember young people, Sumatra the unfortunate
Lose your language and the nation too is lost.

First published in Indonesian in the Dutch language journal Jong Sumatra : organ van den Jong Sumatranen Bond, Batavia, February 1921 via Sandjak-sandjak Muda Mr. Muhammad Yamin as republished in Jassin, H. B.  Pujangga baru : prosa dan puisi / dikumpulkan dengan disertai kata pengantar oleh H.B. Jassin  [Pujangga Baru : prose and poetry / collected and accompanied by an introduction by H.B. Jassin] Haji Masagung, Jakarta,  1987, p. 322.