web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: Curious Couplets
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Curious Couplets

Next week, I'm looking to do a good job as an emcee at the sumptuous wedding reception for the daughter of a major industrialist. The groom is European, so the proceedings will be conducted in three languages. I found several old pantuns to match the occasion, and had taken the liberty to translate them into English for the benefit of guests who do not speak Malay. Hopefully, I did them justice.


Tinggi bukit gilang gemilang

Air laut tenang-tenangan

Budi sedikit tidak kan hilang

Itu menjadi kenang-kenangan


Lo behold the shining hill

Blue calm waters lap the shore

Time shall not fade your goodwill

It'll be treasured forevermore


Buah langsat di tepi busut

Mari diletak di dalam peti

Besar hajat kami menjemput

Besar niat di dalam hati


Beside the anthill the langsats lay

The fruits then placed inside a coffer

With this invite we hope to say

What's in our hearts we'd like to offer


Dua tiga kucing berlari

Mana kan sama si kucing belang

Dua tiga boleh ku cari

Mana kan sama tuan seorang.


In two and threes the cats may race

But none can peer the calico kitten

There could be many whom I may chase

By only you my heart is smitten


Dari mana punai melayang

Dari sawah turun ke kali

Dari mana datangnya sayang

Dari mata turun ke hati


From whence flies the dove

From the fields and down the brook

From whence flows the love

To the heart from just one look


Dari mana hendak ke mana

Tinggi rumput dari padi

Tahun mana bulan mana

Hendak kita berjumpa lagi


Tell me where you go from here

The grass grows taller than the padi grain

Tell me the month, tell me the year

When you and I shall meet again





Here's my attempt at translation of the first pantun -

Tall the shining hills
Still and calm the sea waters
Small even though the deed
In me, tall and still, forever I will keep

- richard
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