Friday, 13 July 2007

In Memory : Usman Awang (July 12 1929 - Nov 29 2001)

Recently, a friend of mine asked if I have a pantun or poem that is appropriate for him to read to his new bride duringtheir wedding reception. I could think of nothing better than Usman Awang’s KEKASIH.


The groom, currently studying Malay, struggled with the words, but when explained the meaning of those beautiful words, practiced hard and delivered it in a way that brought tears to his mother in law’s eyes. The bride, to say the least, was very touched.

Usman Awang, or better known as Tongkat Warrant, left us on 29th Nov. 2001 but he has left us beautiful poems such as Kekasih and short stories, that will remain with us forever.

I was fortunate enough to meet the Sasterawan Negara when he came to London for the perfomance of Jebat in SOAS in 1992, after which he accepted my invitation for a meal of mee bandung. And in return, I received a signed copy of Salam Benua.




The late Datuk Usman Awang was born on this day – 12th July seventy eight years ago and today on his birth date, we offer him – Al Fatehah.

I thank my dearest friend Ena for her entry on the great Tongkat Warrant.


Beautiful words put to beautiful music............brought to you by Kopratasa.

KEKASIH
- Usman Awang


Akan kupintal buih-buih
menjadi tali
mengikatmu
akan kuanyam gelombang-gelombang
menjadi hamparan
ranjang tidurmu

akan kutenun awan-gemawan
menjadi selendang
menudungi rambutmu

akan kujahit bayu gunung
menjadi baju
pakaian malammu

akan kupetik bintang timur
menjadi kerongsang
menyinari dadamu

akan kujolok bulan gerhana
menjadi lampu
menyuluhi rindu

akan kurebahkan matari
menjadi laut malammu
menghirup sakar madumu

Kekasih, hitunglah mimpi
yang membunuh realiti
dari syurga ilusi.

~Usman Awang


Permisi Abang Malaya,
sajakmu elok kita kongsi bersama,
untuk Usman Awang dan semua pujangga,
penghargaanmu yang manis kata-kata,
kita kongsi bersama, ya?

Dari pena Abang Malaya

Adikku,
Bumi kita terasa gersang
Gelanggang seni sunyi dan usang
Pena tua patah dan tintanya tumpah
Tiada lagi pemuisi dan pencipta agung
Tiada pewaris kepada Usman dan P Ramlee
Yang tinggal A Samad Said seorang
A Samad Ismail terlantar di ranjang.

Di mana kan kucari ganti
Usman Awang dan P Ramlee
Dan insan-insan segenerasi mereka
Yang tajam penanya
Yang halus bahasanya
Yang indah gurindamnya
Dan lunak merdu suaranya?

Usman aku panggil dia abang
Dialah penyair dialah pejuang
Kepada yang mengenalinya
Dialah kekasih malam dan siang
Dia romantis dia humanis
Jiwanya sentiasa gelora
Hatinya sentiasa berduka
Kerana dunia yang diimpikannya
Terlalu ideal dan sempurna
Sedang realiti lain sekali
Dunia penuh pancaroba
Penuh duka dan air mata.

Abang Usman buta warna
Melayu, Cina, India semua serupa
Tiada bangsa, tiada sengketa
Waktu suka ketawa ria
Waktu duka menangis bersama.

Pun dia sudah lama pergi
Yang tinggal menjadi legasi
Hanyalah prosa dan puisi
Yang dipintalnya dari buih-buih
Menjadi tali
Mengikat kita
Pewaris seni
Agar kita juga
Boleh menganyam gelombang dan badai
menjadi hamparan dan tirai
Ranjang tidur anak zaman
Yang dia tinggalkan.

Buatmu adikku di perantauan
Dan teman-teman sekalian
Biarlah dalam hatimu ada lagu
Dalam jiwamu suara nan merdu
Menyanyikan lagu kemanusiaan
Ranjang tidur sekalian insan.

-Abang Malaya-

56 comments:

bergen said...

Wish I'd written something as beautiful as that one.

mstreet said...

This poem is so beautiful, it moved me to tears.

Jane Sunshine said...

Reminds me of W.B.Yeats, 'had i the cloths of heaven'....

Kak Teh said...

Bergen, dont we all! But we have not come anywhere near that.

mstreet, thanks for the visit. Yes, it is a rather touching poem.

Jane,
aaaah, yes!
....I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

cemutchan said...

kak teh, u know what..kopratasa always nyanyi lagu tu kalau ada event sastera di KL...
very nice n menusuk...

Kak Teh said...

cemutchan, macam mana kak teh nak cari lagu tu? Pernah juga dengar. Dengar kawan nyanyi karaoke tapi tak dengar yang original. Thanks for reminding me.

Kak Teh said...

athene, my email is zwan_uk@yahoo.co.uk

thanksss!!

zabs said...

Salam Kak Teh,
I don't know what I'm missing, until I read the poem by the Sasterawan Negara. Spending a lot of my waking hours at sea, is not the reason. Memang dahulunya tidak berapa minat membaca. Mungkin boleh mulakan sekarang. Apa tajuk antoligi yang ada "Kekasih" tu?

Kak Teh said...

zabs,being away has brought me closer of all things sastera. I have deprived myself long enough and two years ago, i took the plunge and did my MA in traditional Malay literature. I did this because all around me, there are English, Russians, Germans and French, even Koreans and Japanese who know more about our traditional malay literature than I did. That was when I really went into it and fell in love with syaer and hikayats all over again.

Anyway, the sajak KEKASIH can be found in Salam Benua by Usman Awang, or also in a compilation of quotes on Cinta - in a book called : Yang Bernama Cinta. A beautful collection when you're feeling abit oopsy and woozy! :)

Ordinary Superhero said...

Ah Kak Teh, what a coincidence, 12th July is also an important date for me.

When I was small, I always wonder what tongkat warrant means.

Kak Teh said...

OSH - indeed it is. Al Fatehah to yr Mek too. I miss mine.

zabs said...

Kak Teh: TQ for the info. Tahniah kerana dah jadi Sarjana Sastera Melayu Lama. Saya ingat saya je, dah tua baru nak belajar lagi. At least, jadikan semangat kepada anak2 saya, untuk belajar hingga berjaya.

ruby ahmad said...

Hello Kak Teh,

Thank you for this post. Tercuit nya hati reading those beautiful words. How he crafted his deep and beautiful emotions and put together all the analogies oh so hauntingly touching, that is beyond mere mortals like me. Thank you again Kak Teh.

Pi Bani said...

Another of Usman Awang's puisi yang dah dijadikan lagu is Ke Makam Bonda:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svvxwlutiW4

Kak Teh said...

zabs, tu laah! the children were so happy they could attend my graduation! it was such an important day for me.

ruby - am, what's the word - teruja?
I dont think anyone would anyam a song like that fore me...sigh!
i remember he who shd remain nameless writing a poem for me - You dont look nice when you cry! I cried even more!

Kak Teh said...

pi bani thanks - I will certainly go and look for it.

anasalwa said...

KakTeh,
I didn't care much for poem when I was in high school, but when the first time I came across it many, many moons ago, I thought it was beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with your readers.

demonsinme said...

Madam KT:

This something I wrote quit sometime ago, and if you may, I would like to give it as a wedding gift to your friend's daughter.

To The One

My life has never been much,
Everything I touch turn to dust,
Everything I kiss turn to rust,
Everything I glance will flee so fast.

Everything,
except your love,
everything except you.

Since you came,
I no longer remember the salty taste of tears,
I no longer remember the chill of fear,
I no longer remember the emptyness of no one near,
nor,
do I remember the things that hatred holds so dear.

If ever,

your sweet smell be taken by haven's breath,

or,

your shadow shy by a face so bright,

or,

your voice be drown by a the strom thunderous might,

or,

my presence becomes similar to the that causes a child's fright...

Could I ever remember,

the sweetness of a beautifull night,

or,

the taste warmth of a sun that shine so bright,

or,

the touch of the breeze that gave me all of my might,

or

the bed that rested me in times of plight?

abang malaya said...

Adikku,
Bumi kita terasa gersang
Gelanggang seni sunyi dan usang
Pena tua patah dan tintanya tumpah
Tiada lagi pemuisi dan pencipta agung
Tiada pewaris kepada Usman dan P Ramlee
Yang tinggal A Samad Said seorang
A Samad Ismail terlantar di ranjang.

Di mana kan kucari ganti
Usman Awang dan P Ramlee
Dan insan-insan segenerasi mereka
Yang tajam penanya
Yang halus bahasanya
Yang indah gurindamnya
Dan lunak merdu suaranya?

Usman aku panggil dia abang
Dialah penyair dialah pejuang
Kepada yang mengenalinya
Dialah kekasih malam dan siang
Dia romantis dia humanis
Jiwanya sentiasa gelora
Hatinya sentiasa berduka
Kerana dunia yang diimpikannya
Terlalu ideal dan sempurna
Sedang realiti lain sekali
Dunia penuh pancaroba
Penuh duka dan air mata.

Abang Usman buta warna
Melayu, Cina, India semua serupa
Tiada bangsa, tiada sengketa
Waktu suka ketawa ria
Waktu duka menangis bersama.

Pun dia sudah lama pergi
Yang tinggal menjadi legasi
Hanyalah prosa dan puisi
Yang dipintalnya dari buih-buih
Menjadi tali
Mengikat kita
Pewaris seni
Agar kita juga
Boleh menganyam gelombang dan badai
menjadi hamparan dan tirai
Ranjang tidur anak zaman
Yang dia tinggalkan.

Buatmu adikku di perantauan
Dan teman-teman sekalian
Biarlah dalam hatimu ada lagu
Dalam jiwamu suara nan merdu
Menyanyikan lagu kemanusiaan
Ranjang tidur sekalian insan.

D said...

The late Tongkat Warrant was simply magnificient with words. Wasn't much of a sasterawan myself, but even the 'blind' me could see the great work he did. It's easier appreciated now (when more mature!). Al-fatihah...

Manal said...

It's kinda sexy in a sopan way what he wrote about, almarhum datuk usman awang.

I dunno why i am kinda allured to those who is passionate with words and languages....i think that's also how we muslim can get floaty, woozy, trembling and all on hearing quran recitations and esp when we try to understand its translations...

boyzone song to u: Words.

wonda said...

Akan ku mendengar lagu ini
Berulang-kali tak jemu
Mengingat kembali kisah dulu.

Akan ku putar masa balik
Ke masa dulu
Zaman P.Ramlee Usman Awang tu.

Akan lagu ini bertiup
macam bayu
Melambai-lambai dalam fikiran ku.

Issh.....mana boleh lawan Usman Awang? Saja-saja saya.

Thanks Kak Teh for sharing the beautiful poem and touching melody that goes with it. I'm listening to the song as I typed this comment. I knew Abang Malaya would come too! Maybe somebody should turn his seloka/pantun into a song too.

Kak Teh said...

Anasalwa - same here. I was not into hikayats and syaer before but time and distance can do things to us. And for that I am thankful

demonsinme,
Thank you for sharing your poem with us.

Kak Teh said...

Abang Malaya,
Ditakdirkan aku pewaris seni,
akan ku pintal gubahanmu
menjadi lagu yang mengusik kalbu

akan ku cari bayu membawa
senikatamu yang mendayu
menghibur semua di kala sayu,
dengan lagumu.

Apa kurang puisi Abang Malaya
dengan pujangga seni yang ada dan tiada,
kalau diberi pada kopratasa,
lagu didendang setiap masa,
dengan lunak merdu suara mereka.

Sajak Abang Malaya tak wajar terbenam di sini saja,
banyak peminat yang ingin membaca,
ingin mengenali Abang Malaya,
Abang yang mistri sentiasa
Jadi kupaparkan untuk semua,
kita kongsi bersama, ya?

Kak Teh said...

D, will there be anyone like him? I think not. Such fine words, such beautiful emotions.

manal, The sajak, "Kekasih" appeal to our feminine nature. You said it well - a kind of subtly sexy prose that provokes our feminine instincts.

alice@ wonda,
akan ku tunggu email mu
dengan debaran jantungku.
akan ku jawab YM mu selalu
yang tersangat lucu
menghibur ku setiap waktu.

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,
It was by chance I met Allahyarham on a tour of Medan, Danau Toba etc. He was so calm and serene, observing the beauties of nature as though putting words in his thoughts.He was such a wonderful person to talk to. I felt priviliged and honoured and to this day I always associate Danau Toba and Medan with him. I regretted not keeping in touch with him. Thank you for reminding me of him.
NanaDJ

Kak Teh said...

NanaDJ, thanks for dropping by. I can almost imagine what you have described as I can imagine him in our front room when he honoured us with his visit. Such a humble person. And such talent.

Athene said...

kakteh, you've put up the song! :)

kina said...

Kak Teh,

I am so asyik masyuk with the Kekasih song ni.

If and only if I could churn out beautiful words like Usman Awang...

Al- fatihah to him

and let me dibuai alunan indah Kekasih ni...

Psstt pssst *blink *blink if my husband can sing as good I wud be aaaarrrrr...

Thanks Kak Teh

Has said...

Kak Teh,

I agree with Manal, sexy yet sopan. Mahal tuh.

Kak Teh said...

athene, I am enjoying it so much! I must have listened to it thousands of times and still listening! Thanks.

kina, I did ask myhusabnd if he'd spin words like this for me. His reply:

Akan ku pintal kucing kucing jadi subang untuk mu!
I felt so insulted - cant imagine kucing dangling from my ears!

Has, sexy yest sopan bordering on being sensous - if i can get the right spelling!

ruby ahmad said...

Hi Kak Teh,

What a beautiful song. I'm gonna be hopping here more often then.

There are some men who can love and can spin their feelings too in such beautiful words. I know and you know too there some men who can love our every fibre but can't put their feelings into words. It's ok, when they put their feelings into action. For instance when loved one is sick in hospital, he would find every excuse to be beside her there and not every excuse to be away. I call that romantic too just like that song 'Kekasih' only it was shown in action.

..and some people can put it in some romantic but humorous ways like...'Akan ku pintal kucing kucing jadi subang untuk mu!'...awwww...there's romance in the air definitely..but humorous romance (for he knows where part of her love is and he wanna all...'ketawa 'mengilai' level'. Jesting.

Ok...back to song again for the third time...ahh...

nadya said...

hahaaa..
nad boleh 'naik bulu roma' and CRY reading that..

makteh, punyalah power usman awang nih kan..

take care makteh, do share more beautiful poem with us.

ada jodoh nad 1 hari.. kena refer kt makteh la utk urusan2 peribahasa nih :P

Kak Teh said...

ruby, how true. Gosh, I am always spoilt rotten when I am not well. So, lagi2 lah buat sakit! hehe! So, kucing pun kucing laaah!
When arwah Usman Awang visited us, tak sempat dia nak turunkan sikit-sikit kepada my husband. and now its too late!
oh - check yr mail.

Kak Teh said...

nad, memang power laaa!
and eh, ada apa-apa oaccasion istimewa ke? Let me know cos I dont want to miss it! Hope u are keeping well.

Kenny Mah said...

I have forgotten how beautiful his writing was. Most of us don't really read much local writing (or indeed much writing) anymore post-school years. And this one was more than magic, it is exactly the inspiration I need for the stories I've been meaning to write for my beloved.

Thanks, dear, for reprinting this...

*hugs*

Kak Teh said...

kenny, yes indeed. many of us have forgotten. I think the govt. dbp or anyone at all, and revive an evening of appreciation for the works produced my some of our literary greats.
Hope this inspires u enough and lucky yr beloved! take care! hugs to you too. am meeting u know who this weekend.

kimster said...

probably the most beautiful poem ever written.

jaflam said...

Beautiful poem by Beautiful people. There are not many of them around now .... I met A Samad Said recently ... he not only told me how he wrote the poem but read it out with feelings and emotions for me. Amazing person.

Kak Teh said...

the kimster, I couldnt agree more. when i firsdt read it, i couldn't believe that anything that beautiful can ever be written. and he was such a humble human being, so full of telent.

jafflam, i agree. Datuk A samad Said is a close friend and has been such an inspiration to me. I have yet to ansawer his question to me everytime we meet: Bila lagi....?

R2K said...

: )

demonsinme said...

Madam KT:

No comments, just a gift for you to give to your loved ones.

DARLING

Neither diamonds nor golden rings,
even crowns of a king,
or the breasts of queen,
shall mend this lonely sting,
if you whom my heart sing,
hid like the moon in morning,
and shy like the sun in the evening,
leaving me forever yearning,
for the kiss from the one I call darling.

Kak Teh said...

r2k, you are back!

demonsinme, you are never short of verses. Thanks for sharing!

J.T. said...

Wow.. beautiful poem. It speaks of immense adoration for a loved one.

abang malaya said...

Sekadar menumpang ruang hatimu
Itupun andai ada ruang
Dan masa terluang
Ketika matahari sepatutnya remang
Ketika unggas sepatutnya berkicau riang
Tiba-tiba hujan dan guruh datang bertandang
Membuat hatiku berasa usang
Mendengar titisan hujan
Dan dentuman guruh di kejauhan
Sekali sekala kilat menyala
Membakar alam dan empat penjurunya
Dan akupun bertanya:
Sayu itu apa ertinya?
Lara itu apa ubatnya?
Sepi itu siapa temannya?
Rindu itu sampai bila?
Sekadar bertanya
Soal-soalan yang tiada makna
Yang pasti tiada jawapannya
Tetapi aku bertanya juga
Kerana manalah tahu
Dalam mimpi tidurmu
Pada pagi yang syahdu
Engkau ada jawapan
Kepada segala kemusykilan
Pun andainya tiada, tidak mengapa
Kerana aku sudah boleh menjangka
Soalan-soalanku tiada jawapannya
Maka aku meminta mengundur diri
Buatmu adikku salam abadi
Buat semua, agar harimu berseri
Dalam dakapan kekasihmu
Yang senantiasa di dalam hatimu
Agar terubat segala rindumu
Agar ceria hidupmu selalu.

Tunku Halim said...

Hi Kak Teh, I wonder if such beautiful poetry has been translated into English. I'm sure like Pablo Neruda's translated works, Usman Awang's poetry should be read by the world.

Tunku Halim said...

Kak Teh - thanks for publicising my FAVOURITE TALES COMPETITION on your blog. I hope you and lots of our fellow bloggers will enter! :)

anggerik merah said...

Kak Teh,

Alfatehah to Tongkat Warrant.

Very beautifully written. Wish you well and enjoy the summmer there.

Kak Teh said...

jt, lucky is the woman who was the recipient of this poem!

Tunku, no problem. And yes, the poem was translated into English.

Anggrek Merah, lama tak nampak. Wishing you well now you are back at work and with loved ones.

Kak Teh said...

Abang Malaya menjenguk kembali
berteka teki pula kita kali ini
"Sayu itu apa erti"
apakah lara boleh diubati
tandatanya yang selalu menghantui
kita insan di dunia ini.

Sekadar bertanya apa salahnya
jawapan tak ada di mana-mana
tapi, tanya, tanyalah juga,
manalah tahu terjawab juga.

kaklong said...

kak teh,

indeed, this man was unique and irreplaceable! there doesn't seem to be an heir - pewaris - yet. usman awang's anthology "salam benua", where "kekasih" can be found (if i'm not mistaken) was translated into english by adibah amin in "salam benua - greetings from the continent" - a dbp publication. whether you can still get a copy from dbp is another issue altogether. although a versatile lady, with many accomplishments under her belt, i felt adibah amin didn't do justice to his "kekasih" - an occupational hazard for translators! as one who had immersed in poetry and pantun in her long ago adolescence, i felt that the translation of usman awang's poetry would've been better had it been done by someone with a more poetic bent - the translation lost quite a bit of oomph in the transfer from malay to english. i felt that the english translation should have used words that are not commonly used now for the malay used had an 'old world' charm, so in keeping with the spirit or essence of the sha'ir (as well as the literal meaning), the english used should have similar 'old world' charm. i don't have the english translation readily on hand (with loads of books in every room, covering a multitude of subjects, you can see it'll be like looking for a needle in a haystack!). else, i would upload it to share it with you. sometimes, things get lost in translation, as occurred in winstedt and wilkinson's "pantun melayu", where the old pantun about parting:
"hari ini menanam jagung,
hari esok menanam serai,
hari ini kita sekampung,
hari esok kita bercerai"
was rendered into english as (if memory serves me correct!):
"tonight we cook us millet,
and tomorrow we cook us maize,
for tonight we billet,
ere we go our separate ways"
everytime i think about their rendering, bile rise up as the beauty of the pantun had been marred due to translation - they remembered the spirit, but disregarded the literal meaning!:(
we really must preserve the beauty of the pantun and sha'ir, whether it is in the original malay or in translations to other languages. don't you agree?

warisan chicago said...

Kak Teh/ Abang Malaya,

Permisi nak pinjam karya Abang Malaya untuk dikongsi bersama rakan rakan di perantauan. I was very moved, I am a writer but I could never write as beautiful. Malay is a beautiful language, and I am very proud to know that people are still fighting to keep it alive.

Rose said...

Salam Kak Teh
Hope you are in the pinkish of health.

Bismillah diawali
AlFatehah diiring
Zikrullah dilengkapi

(Juga buat almarhum Usmang Awang dan semua yang telah mendahului dari kami)

Bisikan Bertawajuh

Izinkan aku menghitung segala hari

Dengan bisikan bertawajuh

Agar kesediaan lebih terbuka

Dan keengganan tidak berlarutan

Biar asmara bisa bercambah

Seperti dulu kala

Mesra dalam syahdu kalimah

Laailah ha'illallah.

Rosz

Am sharing this entry as I am working on almarhum's poetry work for a discussion during our (a group of Spore young writers) meet up next week, 25 Apr 08.

If you wanna change of air and catch up on this tiny island sastera movement, you may browse through

http://abass07.multiply.com/

Thank you for the opportunity :)
I salute yee for the will to study
Congrats ;-)

lyna ua said...

Assalam Kak Teh,

Thank you for your and your friends appreciation of my late father's works. He was not only a beautiful gifted person but he was also a beautiful father.

I and my siblings miss him dearly everyday till today. His charisma is something else I should say.

Anyway, I dream of his works being read again at SOAS or any other foreign universities, etc. Maybe someday soon, we hope.

Assalamualaikum,

Lyna Usman

JinHoe Chan said...

Just wanted to say that you've got a lovely blog! I came across your blog and this page whilst looking at Usman Awang poems and loved the poems on this page. I hope people will remember Usman Awang this 29 November

JinHoe Chan said...

Dear Kak Teh, what a great blog you have and I enjoyed your blog on our national poet, Usman Awang. The poems on your blog are lovely. Here is hoping people remember Usman Awang on the 29 November.