“What you have inherited from your fathers, earn over again for yourselves or it will not be yours.” Goethe
While still small and young in years
The little child nestles in her mother’s lap,
Singing soft songs and lullabies her mother
Beams over her child, overflowing with joy;
She rocks lovingly night and day,
Cradle hanging in the land of her ancestors.
Born to a nation with its own language
Surrounded by family to the right and the left,
Raised in the customs of the land of the Malays
In grief and joy and in sorrow too
Feelings of togetherness and unity flow
From her language with its sweet sound.
Whether with wailing tears, or in rejoicing
Whether in times of joy or in adversity and danger;
We breathe to maintain our lives
In the language that embodies our soul,
Wherever Sumatra is, there is the nation,
Wherever Pertja is, there is our language.
My beloved Andalas, my birth country,
From the time I was young,
Till the time I die and am laid in the earth
I shall never forget our language,
Remember, young people, unhappy Sumatra,
Lose your language, and your nation is lost too.
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 [The Young Poems of Mr. Muhammad Yamin] Firma Rada, Djakarta 1954, p. 9 and 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.
Listening to the waves close to me
Pounding to the left and to the right
Chanting a song full of compassion
Awakened is a longing for the place of my birth.
In the East on my side
Shrouded in cloud-billowed skies
Appears the island full of marvels
That assuredly is the country of my birth.
Wherever the sea may pound and crash
And run seething up the sand
That is where my soul is, was first cast forth.
Wherever the waves may spraying writhe
Watering the isle of the Barisan Range along its coast
That is the place please, lay me to rest.
On the Indian Ocean, June 1921
Request (Permintaan) was first published in Indonesian in the Dutch-language journal Jong Sumatra : organ van den Jong Sumatranen Bond, Batavia, June 1921. It was republished in Pane, Armijn (ed), Sandjak-Sandjak Muda Mr. Muhammad Yamin [The Young Poems of Mr. Muhammad Yamin], Firma Rada, Djakarta, 1954, p. 6.
On the border, the Barisan Range,
I gaze out, look down and behold;
A vista of dense jungles and valleys;
And charming rice fields, rivers winding;
And then more, I see too,
The green canopy changing color
With forest crown, palm fronds waving;
That is the country, my homeland
Sumatra is her name, my beloved birth country.
As far as the eye can see, only forest,
Mountainous and hilly, nestling valleys;
Far in the distance, way over there,
Bounded by mountains one by one
There is certainly a heaven,
Without doubt a second paradise on earth
– A Malay Garden of Eden on top of the world!
That is the country I love,
Sumatra is her name, which I honor.
On the border, the Barisan Range,
Gazing down on beautiful beaches and bays;
A vista of water, endless water,
There is the sea, the Indian ocean.
You can see there the waves, so many waves
Breaking onto the sand, then spreading out,
They thunder, as if to proclaim:
“Oh Andalas, island of Sumatra,
Make sweet the name, from north to south!”
Bogor, July 1920
Homeland (Tanah Air) was first published in Indonesian in the Dutch-language journal Jong Sumatra : organ van den Jong Sumatranen Bond, Batavia, 1920 No. 4. It was republished in Pane, Armijn (ed.), Sandjak-Sandjak Muda Mr. Muhammad Yamin [The Young Poems of Mr. Muhammad Yamin], Firma Rada, Djakarta, 1954, p. 5.
“The Batak peoples of north Sumatra are associated with a distinctive writing culture, with manuscripts written on a range of organic materials, primarily tree bark, bamboo and bone. Most characteristic are the bark books known as pustaha, written on strips of bark of the alim (Aquilaria malaccensis) tree, which is folded concertina-fashion, and sometime furnished with wooden covers, which can be beautifully decorated.” (Read more.)