A Poem For U-Wei (Whilst Filing Languidly Into the Hall to Watch Wayang U-Wei)
I came across a poem whilst browsing through Gema Tanah Air II, a collection of modern Indonesian prose and poetry compiled by H.B Jasin, published by PN Balai Pustaka, 1975 edition (first published in 1948), from pages 48 to 49. There is a little ‘expressionist-like’ illustration with a brief biography of the poet, Samiati Alisjahbaba, facing the poem. The poem is titled as Gambar Hidup (literally, Living Picture).
Ruang besar ………………
Tiap kerusi rapih berderet
mesin di atas teratur putar
Tapi hawa panas jua!
Langkah manusia tergesa
Masuk ruang ini ……………
mencari tempat baik sendiri.
Gambar di muka belum juga dimulai
Hawa panas makin mencekik
Duduk tak senang, diubah
Ini manusia mencari permainan gambar hidup
Tak tahu, nanti waktu pikiran suram masih.
Gambar hidup ini selesai sudah.
(Mimbar Indonesia, Th.II, No.2, 10 Januari 1948)
I read the poem, thinking of the now air-conditioned cinemas and the Kerusi Panggung and the stories that they encountered – and U-Wei, there he was, blowing his Serunai Mentakab, making hawa panas makin mencekik… … (the hot atmosphere is getting more strangulating, literally)… The tiny illustration is simply right. It was stated that all illustrations in the book were done by Mochtar Apin,(1923 – 1994) a great Indonesian painter. The illustrations were images made from relief prints of either ‘linoleum’ or ‘wood-cuts’.