Today's Beautiful Gem: `Because of You' by the
Indonesian poet Amir Hamzah,
translated by S.T. Alisjahbana, Sabina Thornton and Burton Raffel.
"Flowers burst into bloom,
Loving life because of You;
Love spreading like flowers in my heart
Filled it with the fragrance of blossoms, and their dust.
"Life is a dream, something
Played behind a screen, and I,
Now dreamer, now dancer, am pulled
In and out of existence.
"So the bright leather puppet shines
His shadow on the screen, bringing us a world
Of emotions. The longing heart follows;
Two souls join, fuse.
"I am a puppet, you are a puppet,
To please the puppeteer as he runs through his song;
We glance at each other, out on the open screen,
For as long as the one melody lasts.
"Other bright-coloured dolls take their turn;
You and I are laid in our box.
I am a puppet, you are a puppet,
To please the puppeteer running out his rhymes."
Note: Modern Indonesian literature began in the thirties. Raffel
refers to Hamazah as "the first great summit in modern Indonesian
poetry." During the last few days, I read and reread the above poem
many times and I must say I am very much moved. The feelings of the
puppet may be extended to the human beings too. Metaphorically, are
we all not puppets directed by the great sUtradhAra (puppeteer)!
Just as in India, puppetry is quite common in Indonesia and the puppet
shows are based on the same Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
This is all the more remarkable if one remembers that Indonesia is
a predominantly Muslim nation.
Om s'aantih: Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao