The story of le pantoum



le pantoum
partout dans le monde
ancienne voix

***
Ancient voice in royal discourse
Melaka, Venice of the East
Of diplomacy, of metaphors
Full of wit, of candor, of bliss

Melaka, Venice of the East
A land of grace and dignity
Full of wit, of candor, of bliss
Such was high society

A land of grace and dignity
The pantun, survived at all cost
Such was high society
Even when all was lost

The pantun, survived at all cost
Travelled across the oceans
Even when all was lost
Its brilliance par excellence

Travelled across the oceans
Ancient voice in royal discourse

Its brilliance par excellence
Of diplomacy, of metaphors

Melaka, all is not lost. 

***

le pantoum
éclat par excellence
un souvenir

Melaka, Venise de l'Orient


by ninotaziz

____________________________

For dversepoets



This is a case of trying too hard I think. But it does cover the story of the pantoum in metaphor.

As Samuel Peralta illustrated in his article in August last year, the pantoum originated from the Malay world's pantun berkait (chained pantun). The first two lines of each stanza are generally a metaphor. Here I attempted to tell the story of what the 15th century Melaka Sultanate in the Malay Peninsula lost, its sovereignity in 1511, but the pantun went on to travel the world.

The verses in French further illustrate the story of pantoum which found a new home in France in the 18th century.

***

From the legendary Malay Hikayat Malim Deman, there is an old royal lullaby composed entirely of pantun berkait, and it must be among the earliest of its forms. It is called Tetak Seranting. Here, I attach a shorter pantun on romantic love - which has always been a popular theme.

Nasi lemak buah bidara
Sayang selasih hamba lurutkan
Buang emak buang saudara
Kerana kasih saya turutkan

For love, I would abandon all else

- Ancient Malay pantun

25 comments:

  1. A difficult task you set yourself here, but ably accomplished. Very impressive. Much that I didn't know, for which sincere thanks.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Dave. I am always rather unsure about writing about this subject here, but the occasion called for it.

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  2. smiles...wonderfully done ninot...you give it a birthright, a history...evoking too the things left behind when others are taken...smiles. i am glad it survived to dance in our ears...smiles.

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    1. Yes Brian. Exactly. But the phantom now belongs to the world. And I feel good about that too.

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  3. Brilliant verse. Would like to do one at some time.. and just like a villanelle it's interesting how the repeated lines change meaning... I really liked this one, and it conjures melancholy and nostalgia. Thank you for extending my knowledge

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    1. Glad you liked it,Björn. Loved your villanelle as I mentioned earlier. That's a tough form for me...

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  4. Ninot Ma'am,
    Really glad you're holding fort on Malay folklore to the rest of the community. Pantoum is classic more so when given your treatment. As a poetry form it's still a 'relatively new form' to me! Brilliant take!

    Hank

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    1. I must remember to write about other lighter stuff, Sir Hank, or no one would visit my blog!

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  5. Beautiful. I really enjoyed your verse and your process notes are enlightening as well. Quite aptly done!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer. The poem required notes, I felt. So it is good that you found they were helpful.

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  6. A beautiful pantoum. How interesting that the form originated in Malaysia. Cool. You wove this tale so well, kiddo!

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    1. It is rather cool, Sherry, isn't it?

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  7. oh very cool how it survived all these centuries.. love when songs and traditions live on..

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    1. Yes, Claudia. Tradition is a big thing with me...

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  8. Your poem makes me appreciate the pantoum even more! I am glad it has survived....and glad that you shared this poem.

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    1. Thank you so much Mary. The pantoum finds it difficult to survive, especially when the spelling checker changes it to phantom! ;-)

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  9. I think that you did a beautiful job! I find these incredibly difficult to write.

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    1. Thank you Mama Zen. You? Finding anything difficult to write? Loved your recent poems - as always, so strong, no mincing words there. Great great stuff!

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  10. this is brilliant, Ninot! I love when a poem makes me want to try a form. Now I need to write a pantun!

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    1. Please do, Heidi! They are lovely...

      Pantun looks deceptively simple. It is difficult because of the metaphor part. Here is an ancient one translated by Msr Daillie from France.

      If not for the stars above
      Why would the moon venture high
      If not for you, my only love
      Why would I venture nigh...

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    2. It alludes to the unattainable love, like stars high above…

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  11. Not only a pantoum/pantun, but Ars Poetica too - a poem about poetry. This is really, really good, Ninot, and you should be proud of it.

    I have never written a pantoun; even after Sam brought them to dVerse, I've never found the right combination of subject, metaphors and language to make the form work.

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    1. Tony, thank you so much for saying so. I rarely write pantoum, even pantun in Malay for that matter. Firstly, the ancient ones are so good, we seem to be rewriting old ones.

      So I know why many say they do not try pantoum. Which is dangerous for the survival of the form…

      Perhaps the form needs to let loose a bit. Haiku is actually very difficult but it has evolved to allow worldwide popularity.

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  12. A super ambitious poem, Nina, that works very well. I 've written pantoums and know how difficult they are, and to actually make sense and deal with a rather arcane historic subject is very impressive.

    I am sorry to be slow getting back - a terrible headache yesterday - am in city three days a week now but would be happy to meet. k. (This is manicddaily.)

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    1. Dear Karin,
      I am so glad you think so. Hope you are feeling better. I left a note on your blog - cyber tea perhaps?

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