Two Achehnese poems

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These two poems are genuine Achehnese. They are not translations or adaptations of foreign works of fiction, as many Achehnese literary products are, nor do they deal with fictitious events originating from the writer’s romantic imagination. Both deal with actual life on Aceh itself and are illustrative of disruptive factors in nineteenth-century Achehnese society. As such they are of more than mere literary or linguistic concern.

The first text, Hikajat Ranto, is a piece of social criticism. It offers a graphic description of the domestic discord which makes men seek their fortune among the pepper planters of the West Coast, where life is ungodly and unrestrained, and of various responses to their protracted absences on the part of the wives, children, and parents.

The second text, Hikajat Teungku de Meuké’, depicts the annoyance and political discord engendered by the high-handed proceedings of a religious leader, and the action taken against him by the secular powers, not without the blessing of the Dutch.

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