Malaysia is at the most southern tip of Euroasia and is split by the South China Sea. The country borders Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei. The history of poetry in Malaysia goes back to the 14th century and is classified by the language in which it is written, Malay or national poetry, regional (indigenous) poetry and sectional (mostly English or French) poetry. Poetry in Malaysia is highly developed and uses many forms.

• The Pantun was at one time an integral part of Malaysian life, used to propose marriage, to tell a proverb, or to celebrate just about any occasion, even shared between warriors about to battle. I was surprised at how unlike it is from its French variation the Pantoum, which I had previously believed was synonymous with the 15th century Malaysian form. The Pantun is said to go back much further in oral tradition but I could find no agreement on how far or what source, one refers to it as an ancient fishing song. 

The Pantun is a poem of two halves almost unrelated. The first half, the pembayan (shadow) sets the rhythm and rhyme of the whole poem, and the second half, the maksud (meaning) delivers the message. The form has been referred to as a riddle. 

These poems were to be exchanged between individuals, not recited to an audience. 

The Pantun is
○ most often a poem in a single quatrain made up of two complete couplets.
○ syllabic, all lines are of the same length, lines are written in 8 to 12 syllables each.
○ rhymed, rhyme scheme abab.
○ written in two complete couplets. The first , the shadow is to set the structure but its focus may be quite different from the second couplet, the meaning in which the message is set.
○ less commonly written in structural variations, still retaining the shadow and meaning components:
§ The shortest is called Pantun Dua Kerat in 2 unrhymed lines.
§ Also written as a sixain made up of 2 tercets, rhyme abcabc.
§ And an octave rhymed abcdabcd.
§ sometimes written in three quatrains rhymed abab abab abab the poem turned on only 2 rhymes.
§ The longest is Pantun Enam Belas Kerat in 16 lines made up of 2 octaves rhyme abcdabcd abcdabcd.
The Choices We Make by Judi Van Gorder

Do I ignore or heed the voices,
the reminder that often festers?
We are all a product of choices, 
our own and our forgotten ancestors. 

Pasted from
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource.

My example

OCD? (Pantun)

My wife – the stove, a strong compunction
a life-long habit, I believe.
She checks the stove, its knobs, their function
a second time before we leave.

© Lawrencealot – October 23, 2014

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