Tugu Tani

Poem for a Student Meeting

By W.S. Rendra

The sun rose this morning
Sniffed the smell of baby piss on the horizon,
Saw the brown river snaking its way to the sea,
And listened to the hum of the bees in the forest.

And now it starts to climb into the sky
And it presides as witness that we are gathered here
To investigate conditions.

We ask:
Why are good intentions sometimes no use?
Why can good intentions clash with good intentions?
People say: “We have good intentions.”
And we ask: “Good intentions for who?”

Yes, some are mighty and some are humble.
Some are armed and some are injured.
Some have positions and some are occupied.
Some have plenty and some are emptied.
And we here ask:
“Your good intentions are for who?
You stand on the side of who?”

Why are good intentions put into practice
But more and more farmers lose their land?
Farms in the mountains are bought up by people from the city.
Huge plantations
Only benefit just one small group.
Advanced equipment that is imported
Doesn’t suit farmers with tiny pieces of land.

Well we ask:
“So your good intentions are for who?”

Now the sun is rising high in the sky.
And will indeed be enthroned above the palm trees.
And here in the hot air we will also ask:
All of us are educated to stand on the side of who?
Will the knowledge taught here
Be an instrument of liberation,
Or of oppression?

Soon the sun will go down.
Night will arrive.
The geckos chatter on the wall.
And the moon sails out.
But our questions shall not abate.
They shall live in the people’s dreams.
Grow in the fields that recede into the distance.

And on the morrow
The sun shall rise once again.
Evermore the new day shall incarnate.
Our questions shall become a forest,
transform into rivers,
And become the waves of the ocean.

Under this hot sun we ask:
There are those who cry, and those who flog,
There are some with nothing, and some who scratch for something.
And our good intentions
Stand on the side of who?

Jakarta
1 December 1977

This poem was presented to students at the University of Indonesia, and performed in the film “Yang Muda Yang Bercinta” directed by Syumanjaya.

 


Poem for a Student Meeting (Sajak Pertemuan Mahasiswa), State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 38.

Image source is Yang Tegak Berdiri Kokoh dan Yang Lunglai Meleyot-Leyot: Tentang Patung, Ruang Publik dan Kekuasaan

Tugu Tani Today

Tugu Tani Today (Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BXhI9dYAb9J)

For background on the history and controversy surrounding Tugu Tani see Matvey ManizerKisah Di Balik Tugu Tani: Patung Pahlawan,  Banyak Ormas Menuduh Patung di Tugu Tani di Jakpus Sebagai Lambang PKI and the following article from The Jakarta Post ‘Tugu Tani’ a hero statue, not farmers statue: History book .

National Peasants Day 2017

National Peasants Day 2017 (Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BZarEQAnIRt)

Shu Li Peasant Heroes 1945 NGA

Shu Li, Peasant Heroes, c. 1945 NGA

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Blue Mosque

Request

By Muhammad Yamin, 1921

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

 

padang

Padang city, West Sumatra


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.

Miners in the Ombilin Coal Mine at Sawahloento, Sumatra's West Coast, 1920

Homeland

By Muhammad Yamin, 1920

On the border, the Barisan Range,
I gaze out, look down and behold;
A vista of dense jungles and valleys;
And charming rice fields, winding rivers;
And then more, I see also,
The green canopy changes color
With forest crown, palm fronds;
That is the country, my homeland
Sumatra is its name, my beloved birth country.

As far as the eye can see, only forest,
Mountainous and hilly, nestling valleys;
Far in distance, way over there,
Bounded by mountains one by one
There is assuredly 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 its name, which I honor.

On the border, the Barisan Range,
Gazing down on beautiful beaches and bays;
A vista of water, endless water,
That is the sea, the Indian ocean.
Visible there are 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

Ngarai Sianok

Ngarai Sianok


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.

HASSAN BASRY: Pahlawan Nasional dari Kalsel

Face of a Hero

By Kosim Pohan, December 1945

The sudden thought passes, the intangible transforms,
In the mind, and makes the faces take form,
Going deep into the feelings, to the gates of the soul,
The spirit of the heroes of ancient times.

In ages past, among the islands, in mother earth,
Spilling blood flowed flooding the earth,
Mighty warriors inflicted vengeance,
Tears of suffering the Motherland shed.

Remembering you, oh noble fighter,
Clearly visible is your service, sir,
Like a torch illuminating young hearts
Lighting the path of the great struggle.

Hero, You Poet and Creator,
True warrior, creator of signs,
Your spirit burns bearing destruction,
Shines flickering into the depths of the heart.

You mighty hero, handsome dashing,
Embodiment of the present struggle,
Your soul will live eternal throughout the ages,
Reigning forever in the throne of our hearts.


Published in the second issue of revolution-era nationalist bimonthly journal Pantja Raja I:2, 1 December 1945, p. 34. The picture is of Hassan Basry.

pantja-raja

Suffering

By Marlupi (Utari Kusno), January 1943

The soul is crying sliced by sadness,
Dejected downcast overwhelmed by sorrow
The soul is weeping sobbing in grief
The body is weak racked by suffering.

Like the sound of howling wind,
Thick clouds rolling churning,
Lightning rumbling canon roaring,
All of nature seems to be grieving.

There are no friends to relieve the pain,
There is no sound of guests dropping in,
Alone the soul feels like it is drowning in flood water,
Is there no sound of people approaching?

The only sound heard is howling wind,
In the heavens above cold stretching;
Is there no one to extend a hand?
Yes, God whispering be patient.

Your own soul your friend of one heart,
God alone your only shelter,
So you believe
Always

That all your suffering
Is as nothing against the suffering of this world;
That all suffering slowly
Will vanish swept away by time.


Jassin, H. B.  Gema tanah air, prosa dan puisi 1942-1948 / H.B. Yassin  Dinas Penerbitan Balai Pustaka Djakarta  1959, p. 20, attributing first publication to the revolution-era nationalist bimonthly journal Pantja Raja I:14, 1 June 1946.

pantja-raja

Pantja Raja magazine No. 9 Vol. II 15 March 1947

Sunset

Early Morning

By Muhammad Yamin, 1921

Fiery sunset still glows wondrously,
Saddening the majestic stars;
Becomes dim then the light is gone,
Rising and setting since time immemorial.

Dawn in the east arrives fiercely,
Spreading jewels all over the world;
Radiant bright as rare pearls,
Variety of colors, sparkling.

Slowly and gloriously,
Gradually rises the sun;
Illuminating the earth with beauty.

All the flowers spread their perfume,
The blooms are open, a splendorous array;
Covered in dew, beading the branches.


First published in Indonesian in the Dutch language journal Jong Sumatra : organ van den Jong Sumatranen Bond, Batavia, June 1921 via Pujangga Baru II/9, March 1935. 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. 327.


Image care of Wanderlust East Java, Private Travel Agency for Nature Tourism in East Java Indonesia.

Sumatra

Love

By Muhammad Yamin, 1921

I often laze about, deep in thought,
Watching the sky aglow,
Vaguely visible, joyful,
Sweeping all away, my contemplative thoughts.

What is there to say, what does the future hold?
Weak is my heart, without any strength,
Watching the stars shining gloriously,
Far atop the mountains.

Oh God of all nature,
What is the point of being here,
Worrying about my lot, after night has fallen?

The stars are shining now and it is dark,
Leaving me sitting here like this
Longing for love . . . leave me here to drown in my thoughts.


Based on and adapted from the work of Keith Foulcher (“Perceptions of Modernity and the Sense of the Past: Indonesian Poetry in the 1920s.” Indonesia, no. 23, 1977, pp. 39–58. www.jstor.org/stable/3350884.) First published in Indonesian in the Dutch language journal Jong Sumatra : organ van den Jong Sumatranen Bond, Batavia, June 1921.

Graffiti

7

By Emha Ainun Nadjib

My God

I entrust myself

to the heart

I make a life ready

for the vibration

where courageous thoughts

are solely of the ultimate gift

which is the frailest

of all prayers

My God

in this my small cell

on this aging mat

as I behold the wooden shelves

books

buildings of an overcast civilization

having done battle in the deceiving sun

I lay down my thoughts

I lift up my heart

and wash

in Your hands.


Emha Ainun Nadjib.  99 untuk Tuhanku [99 For My God],  Pustaka Bandung  1983

6

By Emha Ainun Nadjib

My God
Extinguish not the fire
with a bare foot
but allow me to cross it.

My God
be pleased to permit me
in a world of fire
to attempt to tread
the boundary line
between vicious devils
with the source of drizzling rain.

My God
I beseech you remain alert
within my soul
spray forth the fire
which I may soak in my blood
and so shown forth may be
Your victory.

My God
make of me
part of that fire
which burns up the sun
revolving
opening the dawn of day.

My God
before my future day arrives
leadeth me
to be able to divine
which is the false flame
and which the fire true.

padi

Padi


Emha Ainun Nadjib.  99 untuk Tuhanku [99 For My God],  Pustaka Bandung  1983


The image is “The seal of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Syah of Kedah.  The Arabic inscription reads: al-‘azīz dhū al-mulk al-qadīr al-ghālib ghayr al-maghlūb al-sultān khalīfat Allāh ‘alā dā’īrah Kedah wa-huwa al-Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Syah ibn al-Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Syah sanat 1219, ‘The mighty one, possessor of the kingdom, the powerful one, the conquering [yet] unconquered one, the sultan [who is the] vicegerent of God over the territory of Kedah, and he is Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Syah, son of Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Syah, the year 1219 (1804/5)’.  The seal is stamped on a letter from the Sultan to the Governor-General of Bengal, [Lord Minto], 26 Rabiulakhir 1226 (20 May 1811), pleading for protection against the Siamese.  British Library, MSS Eur.D.742/1, f.3.”  http://blogs.bl.uk/asian-and-african/2014/02/malay-ballad-from-kedah-the-naval-battle-for-phuket.html

59

By Emha Ainun Nadjib

My God

What really is the meaning of Your will

By not sending down any more

Even one more Prophet

For an age which needs

So many more Prophets?

Farmers Shackled by Cement!

Farmers Shackled by Cement! #Dipasungsemen


Emha Ainun Nadjib.  99 untuk Tuhanku [99 For My God],  Pustaka Bandung  1983

ERK

In Flight

By Efek Rumah Kaca

I am often threatened
Terror grips me too
I am often removed
any place any time

I can be drowned in the sea
I can be poisoned in flight
I can be murdered on the footpath
but I will never die
will never stop

I am often threatened
And terror grips me too
I can be made to suffer
I can be made lifeless
Electrocuted or even stabbed

But I will never die
will never stop
But I will never die
will never stop

I can be made to suffer
I can be made lifeless
Electrocuted or even stabbed

I can drown in the sea
I can be poisoned in flight
I can be murdered on the footpath

But I will never die
will never stop
But I will never die
will never stop

 

https://youtu.be/74OzJPO7w2Q

 

 

Mount Bromo Savanna

Rustle of the Ulla Grass

By M. Adil, 1935

Ulla grass, I often listen to your whistling rustle,
If the soft wind swirls around you;
Your heads lowered as if in homage,
You bow singing of grief which cuts the heart;

While shivering grips your long stems
Straight and bowed declaring your praise –
          Completely pervading my conscience,
Because your song makes an agreement with my sorrow.

          In the shade I often lazing sit
Gazing at the waves which gently undulate,
Escorting the song of your sighing siren leaves
Serene, at peace, unperturbed
I recede me into a wave of ecstasy
Into your oneness mystic soaring oblivious to time,
          Caught in the stream as if in a dream,
          Prostrate to intercede for God’s mercy divine.


Desau Pimping, From Panji Pusaka via Pujangga Baru II/9, March 1935. 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. 34.

 

Images: Themeda gigantea (Cav.) Hackel ex Duthie [as Anthistiria gigantea Cav.]   Cavanilles, A.J., Icones et descriptiones plantarum, vol. 5: t. 458 (1799) [A.J. Cavanilles]  Drawing: A.J. Cavanilles  http://plantillustrations.org/illustration.php?id_illustration=240997; Bromo Midnight Tour and Travel; Savanna Valley, Whispering Desert Mount Bromo