Tuesday, July 31, 2007
A Bit of Poetry, Anyone?
There used to be a slot for the appreciation of poetry in the NST. But it has since disappeared, perhaps because of a lack of appreciation. I wonder whether kids are still taught how to appreciate poetry in school - be it in English or Bahasa. I know for a fact that music is not a part of the school syllabus and, therefore, most Malaysians are note-blind!
I think children must be exposed to poetry and music from school-age in order to cultivate their sensitivity to and appreciation of the Arts. Jingles and Nursery Rhymes contribute much to the development of their artistic talent. A child who has no education in music or poetry tends to become uncouth and crude ( even banal and impertinent as an adult) - devoid of the finesse and savoir faire which characterises a child or person of high breeding. We should not, therefore, be surprised if children become so nowadays being brought up on a diet of violent TV shows, news of war, brutal deaths and bloody massacres in the papaers, with social abberations and psychopathic behavior occurring all around him or her!
Berita Harian has published a special supplement to its daily to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the paper ( July 31 issue). It carries a poem by A. Samad Said, the nation's poet laurette, among various articles, which to me sums up the history of the paper in a very subtle and artistic way. See if your exposure to poetry and in Bahasa has enabled you to succour the little gem from the inspiration of the Muse. I'll reproduce it in full;
HEMAH SEBUAH AKHBAR
(Menyambut Berita Harian 50 Tahun)
Bahasa dan sejarahnya abjad pinjaman
lidah asing yang mula syahdu dihemahkan.
Dari bumi gelora lahirnya beradat
ke gerbang merdeka diperharum martabat.
Dan memang dari tapak kembara yang mula
dalam gugup suara dan gusar bahasa
dikisahkan watak sasa dan wira haloba;
dinyaringkan jerit duka dan ria bangsa.
Hoffman dan Samad di sisi Siew Yee dan Wahab
tangan-tangan pertama menghijayat kitab.
Mereka pelandas watak dan wajah "Berita",
disambut pewaris canggih kemudiannya.
Jalan yang jauh tak tercapai sesiapa;
denai pintasan tak selalunya selesa.
Sebaik taufan gugah menguji negara,
pewaris inilah penyelamat utama.
Umurnya mes-tik, bisik ilham bergilir,
derasnya komputer, 'antun mengejar shair.
Dari Balai Berita disaktikan ayat
turut dilimpah semangat lebih berdarjat.
Dalam lima dekad pohonya menyegar subur,
menjaga khazanah, meluruh daun takbur.
Naluri dan kalbu bangsa, degup asasnya,
terus memperindah abjad tulen batinnya.
Dalam gugup bahasa dan gusar budaya;
dari damai tasik ke resah samudera,
dirakam betapa hartawan atasi kata
dan betapa kuasawan cemari arah.
Taufan bakal kencang, azam marak menyala,
lidah dan minda bakal belajar berlaga.
Dan di jalan muka dikutip iktibar
dirakam wartawan yang sentiasa sabar.
Layar kehidupan tetap tersebar luas
khusus diwarnai pesan yang belas dan waras.
Di Jalan Riong sekuntum bakti meranum.
semua diasuh mesra menyemai senyum.
Lima dekad Berita Harian dewasa,
akhbar hemah yang tetap insani kalbunya.
A, Samad Said
Even a professor of Malay Language and Culture was stumped by some of Samad's poetry. But, that's Malay poetry at its best
as of today. The 38 line poem, broken up into 5 verses and titled Hemah Sebuah Akhbar ( The Wisdom of a Daily) says more about the historical and spiritual development of the paper than the other write-ups and quotes from several dignitaries and luminaries.
To briefly comment on it, it began by remiding us about the fact that BH was a "borrowed" idea ( Bahasa dan sejarahnya abjad pinjaman), a part-translation from The Straits Times, born at a time of national strife after independence(bumi gelora) and nurtured to a pretigious Daily, incorporating news from a nervous stance (gugp suara) coaxed in an angry or aggressive language ( gusar bahasa), about heroic characters (watak sasa) and ambitious (or greedy) entrepreneurs ( wira haloba), highlighting the sufferings and the pride and joy of the nation (duka dan ria bangsa).
The second verse refers to Tan Sri Hoffman, Samad (Ismail), Siew Sin and Wahab (Zain) as pioneers in the development of the Paper, followed by enterprising successors or "heirs" (pewaris) who blazed the trail which was long, rough and never comfortable (denai pintasan tak selalu selesa). As the nation faced new challenges( taufan gugah menguji negara) these "heirs" helped to save the day (by popularising the paper).
The old typewiters changed to computers and the traditional style of writing/reporting ( symbolized by "pantun") kept abreast with modern journalism (symbolized by "syair") and from the Newsroom ( Balai Berita) poured vibrant and high quality/fidelity news for five decades of development, to enrich the sould of the nation and cleanse it from false pride (meluruh daun takbur), allowing the paper to establish its own authentic identity (abjad tulen batinnya).
Through the throbbings of a nervously maturing language and an adaptive culture (gugup bahasa dan gusar budaya), the paper moved from an island ( symbolized by "tasik") to the mainland (symb. by "samudeera") chronicling how the rich can have the final say of the day (hartawan atasi kata) and the powerful thwarting or deflecting the sense of direction (kuasawan cemari arah), causing clashes of ideals, minds and words (lidah dan minda belajar berlaga), picking up new experience/wisdom (muka dikutip iktibar) as the journalists record all with patience ( Verse no.4).
The sails of life (boat imagery) fluttered on full-sprung carrying a sympathetic but healthy reminder (diwarna pesan yang belas dan waras) and at Jalan Riong the paper flourished with all the employees being trained in a cordial and friendly atmosphere (diasuh mesra menyemai senyum) achieving maturity over five decades with wisdom and love for humanity as its driving force ( akhbar hemah yanbg tetap insani kalbunya).
Much of the linguistic beauty, wealth of imageries and pithy condensation of ideas and thoughts ( eg. gugup bahasa, gusar budaya, resah samudera, membaja khazanah, meluruh daun takbur etc.) is lost in the brief translation and commentary, and their meanings and connotations can encompass other levels of interpretation. But, what I've mentioned is enough to show what a young Malaysian ( or even a well-educated adult) not trained in poetry appreciation could miss.
I think much more needs to be done to bring back the teaching of the arts in schools. The focus now is so much on science and mathematics that the young men of tomorrow might not be able to enjoy the beauty of the arts and culture, too busy chasing the pot of gold to afford a comfortable life whilst the comfort and solace of aesthetic and spiritual attainement escapes them.