Pantoums from Borneo

by Colin W. Campbell


Having had the very good fortune to come and live in the east Malaysian state of Sarawak, I found myself drawn to turn poetry’s pen to the pantoum. This form with its strict rules and line repetition can trace its roots back to 15th-century Malay poets and what was then and is today, the pantun.

Today, Santubong is a rather special place not too far from the modern world of the state capital of Kuching. Here we have the timeless sea, a mountain celebrated in legend, soaring eagles, time to dream and cheeky wee lizards.

In the Shadow of
Mount Santubong

In the shadow of Mount Santubong
I wait to see the eagles fly.
For this is where I now belong
beneath the gentle Sarawak sky.

I wait to see the eagles fly
and this is where I want to be.
Beneath the gentle Sarawak sky
down beside the South China Sea.

And this is where I want to be
for this is where I now belong.
Down beside the South China Sea
in the shadow of Mount Santubong.

Santubong Eagle

Down beside the shore,
I saw an eagle fly.
I wished that I might soar,
like an eagle in the sky.

I saw an eagle fly.
I wished that I could be
like an eagle in the sky.
Like the eagle watching me.

I wished that I could be,
I wished that I might soar,
like the eagle watching me.
Down beside the shore.

Lizard Poo

When geckos come around
they sneak up in the dark.
With all this lizard poo
the reptiles leave their mark.

They sneak up in the dark,
oh, what are we to do?
The reptiles leave their mark
just lying on the ground.

Oh what are we to do
with all this lizard poo?
Just lying on the ground,
when geckos come around.

Dreams

Out past the setting sun
at the closing of the day.
A time to stop and listen,
with dreams of far away.

At the closing of the day
way down at Santubong,
with dreams of far away
where memories belong.

Way down at Santubong
a time to stop and listen.
Where memories belong
out past the setting sun.


Copyright © 2012 by Colin W. Campbell

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