Sundanese poetry has been part of world literature for a very long time


[, 7/11/2013] Sundanese poetry is known as part of Indonesian and even world literature which has the connection with other genres in literature, and this results in the particular qualities of the poetry compared to others.

Tedi Muhtadin, M.Hum. (left) is accepting souvenir from Dean of Faculty of Arts, Prof. Dr. Dadang Suganda, M.Hum. (Photo by: Arief Maulana)

“This is the identity of Sundanese poetry and it is irreplaceable, built and modified for centuries,” said Tedi Muhtadin, M.Hum., a lecturer at Sundanese Department Unpad when giving a speech on “The Existence of Sundanese Poetry in the Relation with Post-Sundanese Identity and Generation” before the faculty members of Faculty of Arts (FIB) Unpad, Thursday (07/11) at the Hall of Japanese Center, FIB as part of a series of event for the faculty’s 54th Dies Natalis.

Muhtadin said that the long existence of Sundanese poetry is proven in the variety of the poems written in the Old Sundanese manuscripts. They were written in the 16th century; among them are Putra Rama dan Rawana, Pendakian Sri Ajnyana, and Kisah Bujangga Manis: Jejak Langkah Peziarah.

The poems show the connection with Indian literature which includes the structure of the poems. Besides adapting stories from India, the structure of Sundanese poems also adapt the structure of Indian poems with pentameter pattern in every line. Sundanese poems also vary in forms, such as  sisindiran, sa’ir, pupuh,  and the more modern one.

Qouting Sundanese culture’s prominent figure, Ajip Rosidi, Sundanese modern poems started to be written after World War II and were influenced by Indonesian literature. Polemic then rises questioning the identity of Sundanese in Sundanese media in 1950s. Muhtadin then added even though Sundanese modern poems were created with the influence from Indonesian literature, one of Sundanese poets, Sayudi, was greatly committed to preserve the Sundanese character in the modern poems.

After Sayudi, a number of Sundanese poets continued his pattern that resulted in the strong Sundanese character by writing poems in both Bahasa Indonesia and Sundanese. The poems have been published in several media, such as Mangle, Galura, Cupumanik, and others.

Today, Sundanese poems are connected with global culture. They are written not only in West Java, but also abroad. The development of social media has also contributed in the publication of modern Sundanese poems. “This situation often causes the reinvention of Sundanese identity, but it can viewed as one of the ways to preserve Sundanese literature,” said Muhtadin.