Translation – Chairil Anwar: Goodbye (Selamat Tinggal)

Another translation of a shortish poem from Chairil Anwar. As with all my translations Chairil Anwar’s poetry, once I had finished I compared mine to Burton Raffel’s translation (viewable on Google Books). I have talked before about the ambiguity inherent in Anwar’s works, and the comparison between the translations demonstrates it again. For example Raffel translates ‘angin lalu‘ ‘the wind blowing by’, whereas I have translated it as ‘the winds of the past‘, the difference hinging on the multiple meaning the word ‘lalu’.


I look in the mirror

This face covered in wounds
Whose is it?

I hear a roaring cry
… in my heart?…
Is it just the winds of the past?

Yet another song
Flutters in the pitch black night


It all thickens, all coagulates
All unknown to me…!!!

Selamat Tinggal

Aku berkaca
Ini muka penuh luka
Siapa punya?
Kudengar seru menderu
… dalam hatiku?…
Apa hanya angin lalu?
Lagu lain pula
Menggelepar tengah malam buta
Segala menebal, segal mengental
Segala tak kukenal… !!!
Selamat tinggal…!!