Handbook to Singapore.
is considerable uncertainty as to the correct orthography.
The chronicles and legends are said to be painfully genealogical and as tedious and uninteresting to the Western reader as a Chinese drama to a European spectator. They have, however, an interest of their own, and are not without literary grace. The best known to Europeans is the Hikayat* of Abdullah bin Abdul Kader, written in the year 1840. The author was the Munshi who taught Malay to the earliest British settlers in Singapore. This is not his only work, but, owing to its being used as a reading-book in the Colony, it is better known than the others. Another chronicle worthy of mention is the Sejarat Malayu (Malay Annals), a mixture of history and legend.!
Besides the chronicles, legends, and other prose writings, there is a large number of proverbs, poems (shder)X and pantuns. The last-named, the pantuns, consist of a verse, or verses, of four lines each, rhyming alternately, and couched in highly metaphorical language, to discover the meaning of which often baffles the Western reader. Three specimens follow A :a
The heron flies into the air,
And dashes down the fish it had caught.
Forbear to grasp burning embers,
Or, feeling the heat, you will quickly let them go.
* The word Hikayat, used by the Malays, is the Arabic word for story. A translation of the greater part of Abdullah's Hikayat, by J. T. Thomson, f.r.u.s., is published by Henry S. King e Co.
f See notes on p. 7 and p. 66.
t Shaer is also from the Arabic.
| Taken from the Appendix to Marsden's Malay Grammar,| Taken from the Appendix to Marsden's Malay Grammar,