PT Puisi Indonesia in Jakarta published my collected poems Perjalanan [Journeys] in 1984. I translate some of the poems  into English as follows:

The First Journey

I made the step
to leave the calm village
for exploring the jungle of knowledge
in the hard city

I make the world smaller
I explore

the first journey
tracing the endless roads

looking for meaning
alive and then die

[padangsidimpuan, july 1961]


stifling heat
my body hair stick up
cold sweat evaporating

casuarina trees
are stiff and covered by dew

I am thirsty in cold
my body  less warm

stifling heat
cold sweat evaporating
I am stiff

the karonese girls
continue their hard living
picking flowers
for the urban people

flower gardens
for the urban people

[brastagi, april 1959]

My Future World

there is no second to
happiness in death

mixed together in loneliness
there is no moon
there is no stars
there is no sun
nothing and none

my two angle secretary
read pages of my life

and then I want to escape to the world
to whiten the black

I surrender
the door of the grave is tightly locked
the door of repentance has been closed

before my death persuade me to whiten the black
give me sweet words
the passion of your smile
the shine of your eyes
and the secret of your tears

you are my angle
in my future world

[padangsidimpuan, january 1961]

Hoping for None

For Rani


this room
with no trace

all quiet
wild tones

lips pinching
red lips

this room
with no more occupant
holding down

I am anger
I whisper to the mirror
I ask for face

this face
I hope again

[padangsidimpuan, january 1960]

The Value of a Poem

poem may has poison
poem may burn
poem may make cool
poem may be frightening
poem is not mathematics
poem is only for heart of hearts

can beat ones heart
who is encircled by his passion

[padangsidimpuan, march 1960]


if raffles emerged from his grave
roaming to the east
and sit on the floor of his wife's tomb in bogor

he would be sorry to himself
why he was present as a foreigner

if raffles saw a corpse flower in bogor
he would be very sorry too
why the bad name replace rafflesia

if raffles opened the pages of history of java which he wrote
he would be sunk in the ocean of dreams
witnessing the repetition of history

raffles felt sorry in bengkulu
because his forts have been fragile and decrepit

but his sorrow replaced by consolation too
because he would never lost as may be happened in java bengkulu is still the same with the old times

raffles was happier in singapore
the city state
his lovely island state
which grows forests of concrete and steel
which occupy by wild fuel drinking entities
and the long time lonely villages
now are shifted by cubicle houses

and if he opened his diary
while chatting with abdullah
he would smile
because there is no historical repetion in singapore

he would not suffer a loss by changing bengkulu with singapore
his inner voice said
and then he returned to his grave

[singapore, december 1971]

The Deadly Bridge

the second world war monuments in kanchanaburi
keep thousands of cruelness of war stories

the bridge over the river kway becomes a witness
the japanese troops
made the yellows, the browns and the whites
as fragile screws of the thailand - burma iron ways

king cobras
were not the reasons to delay the constructions of the deadly bridge

the lost of life means changing spare parts
with bones covered by thin skins and weak muscles
that would disappear in a short time

the position and title of the weak men were meaningless
the life eye witness of the human tragedy
live in all over the world
casparis the curator of the indonesian archeology
was one among them

here the indonesian youths became screws too
who were weak and died
then they only had inscriptions in kanchanaburi:

to respect the soul of the muslims
when worked here
allah would pay their good deeds

that are the words of the inscriptions

[kanchanaburi, june 10, 1978]


in the strangulation of the age of ignorance
as high as tempo
of the cruelness of greed
greedy man
never ending

in the barrenness of morals
in the barrenness of land
emerged a precious stone
the corrector of ignorance
to disappear suspicion
brought the greatness

the place of the abstinence in the service of god
to worship the only god
the place of the vision from god to man
first revealed

the west light
muhammad the messenger of god

the greed repeatedly
against the steely
but it was aglow
the steel is glowing

steel and love were entirely mixed
firmly united

muhammad our master
personality builder
human rights pioneer
the eternal man

[padangsidimpuan, august 31/1 september 1960]
First prize of Poetry Writing Contest: Senior High School Students in Padangsidimpuan, North Sumatra in September 1960.

A story from demarcation

now, story not only for one self
thousands of souls have created this story

fire is still not extinguished in the border
ammunition had burned mother's nose

one by one the children of nation
died in vain

one or two
and then remember
his spoiled past

in the village
children crowded
there is a man
from war

tears has been dried
there are no more die in vain
accept your sons
in your warm arms

this meeting
for today and tomorrow

[jakarta, september 1962]
First prize of Student Poetry Writing Contest: Faculty of Education and Teachers Training, University of Indonesia, Jakarta, in 1962.

Citta del Vaticano

I explored the warehouse of the treasures
human works of all times
in the rich vatican library

world map made in china
the world is china
indonesian map made by portugese
the big timor and the tiny sumatra
dante's divina comedia is here
the beginning and the end of human drama
recorded by michel angelo in the sistine chapel

citta del vaticano
become total museum
which exhibit all the times

[vatican, 29 July 1975]

Sacred Aroma

in the hindu's gate
aroma of the cows dregs
spread in air

but it is the holiness

all of them are sacred

[santa cruz airport, bombay, july, 31 1975]


day becomes night
night becomes day
show windows of human shops
persuading buyers

white swans
wandering in the sex market

human fights
in the arena
watched by human of all nations

never sleep

day becomes night
night becomes day

[hamburg, november 28, 1981]


ruins of war
your pock-marked face

the hell wall
human children
witnesses of the history
of stinginess

you are monument
of the cruelty of war

[berlin, november 30, 1981]

Snow and Homeland

the first snow spreading down there
I wrote the words in my post card
before my plane touched down munchen airport

the first snow
I said in my heart from the olympic tower
when I enjoyed the face of munchen powdered by snow

the enjoyable but annoying winter
strengthen love to fatherland

which dry
which flooded
which is barren
which are forested
which are mountainous and valleys
between two continents and two oceans

[munchen, december 3,1981]

White Beggars

begging is not a monopoly of the color men

in bonn and koln there are messy beggars
sit cross-legged begging pedestrians

in new york
the beggars staggering
tracing the sidewalks
or waiting in the end of roads
begging a pity on him

in amsterdam
young beggars
walking to and fro at the station and along damrak
looking for victims among foreigners
he or she asks for money in polite and sweet expressions
as if two close friend just meet each other

there are beggars everywhere
and black too

[bonn, koln, amsterdam, new york, 1981-1982]

Ballads of America

Ballad I: Columbus

all along the basin of the ohio river
long long time ago the black men were exploited
now they are arising
the oppressed people are arising

[columbus, august 1982]

Ballad II: Washington

the king of the world reigns here
whose heart is white as white as his palace
whose heart is turbid as turbid as potomac river

[washington, august 18, 1982]

Ballad III: New York

worms of steel
race in your belly
worms of steel
slither cross your skin
strands of
and steel
embedded in your hide
scratch at the sky

you rule the world's course
give life to men of all colors
who struggle in your body

you are noble
and you are also arrogant*)

from your twin buildings
I stare at the jungle of buildings
that grow and thrive

steel tigers
lash out
at those making their way
through your jungle

you are noble
but also arrogant*)

[airport jfk new york, august 25, 1982]

*) John H. McGlynn translated this poem and published it on pages 44-45 in Manhattan Sonnet: Indonesian Poems, Short Stories, and Essays about New York. Shortly after the launching of this book in Jakarta, in November 2001, I complained McGlynn for his wrong translation of angkuh. He translated the word as “proud”. I told him that the correct translation of angkuh is “arrogant”. He accepted my complain and promised to correct it  in the revised edition of the book. The book is edited and with an introduction by John H. McGlynn ; foreword by Adila Suwarno, published in Jakarta  by Lontar Foundation in 2001. - (Special publications). - ISBN 979-8083-40-7.

Ballad IV: Alaska

on the point of horn of the uncle sam country
there on the opposite
the red bear
challenging the alaska bison
[anchorage, august 25, 1982]

The Servant of the Republic *)
A cadeau for the 67th birthday of Adam Malik

bung **)
let us open
the pages of the three periods of history  ***)
note one by one
the high and the ebb tides of the national struggles

let us examine
the attendance list of the three period fighters
and make a mark on their names

let us open
the albums of the national patriots
and recognize their face

I read scratch of your pen

I see you have never absent

I see your face in three historical periods

I read your name
in the political prisons
which you began to enter
in your seventeen

your name has been  noted in golden ink
in the history of our nation
in the history of many nations
in the history of struggles for human rights

adam malik
is adam malik
of the past
of the peresent
of the future
whose heart-breaking
in witnessing  the miserable people
in witnessing the national patriots
who suffer
who live with left breaths

the people who devoted themselves to sacrifice
the patriots in the old days
were customers of [political] prisons
now they are decrepit
they live in poor
in the villages
in the corners of cities

they are member of your generation
who enjoy their aging
slow and boring

their fighting spirit is still burning
and this is their last possession

they are the most expensive possession of the nation
as you are too
a person among small number of people
who still witness the fate of the republic
whose independence paid with
and soul

raging the sense of belonging on the republic
inherit the spirit
to struggle
to sacrifice
and the braveness to maintain the truth

your struggle's slogan:
liberty is a born right !
liberty is the right to be alive !
will become reality
to fulfill the goal of the republic
which you have fought for in a half century

you are alive
ever live
all the times
as the servant of the republic

[rawamangun, july 1984]
*)     I read this poem for the first time on the occation of 67th birthday celebration of Adam Malik on July 22, 1984.
**)   Popupar and familiar form of address among men, e.g.: Bung Karno, Bung Hatta, Bung Syahrir, etc.
***) Dutch colonial period, Japanese occupation period and revolution period.