May 25, 2019 Last Updated 3:09 PM, May 22, 2019

Morphology of desire

Morphology of Desire
Published: Sep 01, 2014

Dorothea Rosa Herliany

Translation by Harry Aveling

 

Burning Garden

look at the wounded years
scattered across the floor. the seasons
have given nothing to the garden
we tended. look outside the window!
the grass has left behind an ancient story.

and the roses which grew in our dreams
have suddenly turned to ash. so
what do we need to defend
anymore? let us go, tearing out
the bleeding verses of our nightmares.


Endless Songs

I picked up the flowers you threw
onto the rubbish, their fragrance
sweetened my dreams and waking hours

then I put them into a black vase
shaped like your wound

and left them alone in a corner of the bedroom
to remind me of the colors red and white,
roses and jasmines, love
and betrayal

their fragrance never left me

I picked up the flowers you threw
onto the rubbish, their fragrance
scattered seeds in my heart.
I will bewitch the buds
and grow me a garden.


An Alien Tree

you planted a strange tree
across the door of my cottage.
i couldn’t see my lonely garden,
only remember stories of fields
covered with weeds. so i painted
a picture on the dark walls of my bedroom.
then i added a drawing
of a child fishing in a rice-field.
heaven was the bait
to catch the poor fish.

sometimes i want to cut
the tree down, to throw away
the picture because it
only confuses me. but,
outside my window,
you have planted
another tree. and
the walls are covered
with true and false
stories, folded away
behind glass.

 

Dorothea Rosa Herliany was born in Magelang, Central Java on 20 October 1963. She holds a degree in the study of Indonesian literature from Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta. For 10 years, she ran IndonesiaTera press in Magelang, which specialized in the publication of books of Indonesian literature. She has written more than 20 collections of original poetry, a great many of which have been translated into English, including Kill the Radio (2007). She has received numerous literary awards: “Best Book of Poetry” from the Jakarta Arts Council in 2000; “Best Author”, from the National Language Center in 2003; another from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2004; and her book of poetry Santa Rosa (Saint Rose) won the Khatulistiwa Literary Award (2006) as well as the Cempaka Award (2011) for achievement by women. She has been a writer-in-residence in Australia sponsored by La Trobe University and Asialink (2000). She has read poety and lectured in numerous countries: Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Dubai, and the United States, among other. Currently, she manages a place of art and cultural activities, “Dunia Tera”, which she established in Borobudur, Magelang.

Harry Aveling holds Adjunct Professorships at La Trobe and Monash Universities, Melbourne, Australia, and was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Ohio University, in 2011. Besides his supervisory work at Monash University, Aveling has taught courses in translation studies in both Indonesia and Vietnam. He is a fellow of the Stockholm Collegium of World Literary History, representing island Southeast Asia. He was President of AALITRA, the Australian Association for Literary Translation, from 2005 to 2008, and is currently President of the Malaysia and Singapore Society, a regional subgroup of the Asian Studies Association of Australia.

 

 

Burning Garden (Taman yang Terbakar) first appeared in Indonesian in Matahari Yang Mengalir (Ende, Flores: Nusa Indah, 1990); Endless Songs (Lagu yang Diulang-ulang) in Nikah Ilalang (Yogyakarta: Yayasan Pustaka Nusatama, 1995); and An Alien Tree (Pohon Asing) in Kepompong Sunyi (Jakarta: Balai Pustaka, 1993). The translations, provided courtesy of the Lontar Foundation, most recently appeared in Morphology of Desire (Jakarta: Lontar, 2013). These poems have been published here with the permission of Dorothea Rosa Herliany and Harry Aveling.

 

Inside Indonesia 118: Jul-Sept 2014

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A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar