I was launched into the pantun mood last night. Can’t get over it still. Do you think we — the Screenshots readers community and I — could do something to promote pantun among thinking adults like us?

I remember, during the pre-Merdeka days, Onn Jaafar and Tan Cheng Lock used to settle their political squabbles by trading pantuns late into the night. Yes, you jual and beli pantun until a deal is struck!

dondang_sayang.jpgPenang in the yesteryears used to celebrate Chap Goh Mei with the Babas and Nyonyas (the Peranakan or Straits Chinese) coming in throngs to sing in Dondang Sayang on roving buses! Admittedly, I was too young to see this in person, but there are many pictures in the cultural museum depicting this bygone galore. (In fact, The NSTP Photo Exhibition for this year’s Merdeka has one huge picture like this!)

Coming back to pantun, I particularly like the pantun empat baris over other variants. Perhaps you should try to get a hand on it.

The common ones have the most basic form of even-numbered lines based on an a-b-a-b rhyming scheme. As a rule of thumb, a ‘perfect’ pantun that does not deviate from the rhythm will have between 8 and 12 syllables in every line. For example:

Buah cempedak di luar pagar,
Ambil galah tolong jolokkan;
Saya budak baru belajar,
Kalau salah tolong tunjukkan.

You can see the pantun above was written in quatrains, following an a-b-a-b rhyme scheme.

Hence, the ending of the 1st line (pagar) rhymes with the ending of the 3rd line (belajar); while the ending of the 2nd line (jolokkan) rhymes with the ending of the 4th line (tunjukkan).

If you count the syllables, the first line has 10, the 2nd and 3rd lines have 9 each, the 4th has 10. Perfect.

Asa norm, the last-salvo message of a pantun is contained int he last two lines, hence these two lines are calld the ‘maksud‘. In contrast, first two lines of a pantun are regarded as ‘pembayang maksud’, which foreshadow and lead-in the actual message — overt or covert — that immediately follows.

Here are a couple of pantuns on the finesse understanding of budi. It’s culled from the collection of Pantun Dondang Sayang Baba Kim Teck:

Ada seekor si anak beruk,
Suka bertenggek di kayu buruk;
Zahir ketara batin tersorok,
Budi yang baik hilang ditaruk.

Banyak orang di Bukit Cina,
Sayang Cik Ali menebang kayu;
Zaman sekarang ringgit berguna,
Budi yang baik terbuang lalu.

I would really appreciate it if you could share your collection of classic pantuns, or even your own compositions, in this blog of mine.