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Page 15

Man of the Earth

he rise before dawn

to go out to his field

submissive and pretty

his brown cow is at heel

she listens attentive

for kindly he speaks

Little sister I am sorry

but your assistance I need

he then prays for a blessing

from the goddess Dewi Sri

three days have now passed

and waters lain in his field

This day is propitious

are the words of the priest.

with love and rejoicing

he now works in his field

black earth soft and yielding

how responsive it feels

his knees are bent heavy

as he presses the plough

his muscles are aching

but he is helped by his cow.

white herons fly low

then alight in the sawah

they are searching for eels

in the mud of his fields

dragonflies flicker past

as they hover and dart

pak rests for awhile

surveys all and smiles

wipes the sweat from his eyes

and emits a long sigh.

he braces himself

then returns to his labour

to the soil once again

of his beautiful



dia bangun sebelum fajar menjelang

untuk pergi ke ladang

pasrah sekaligus senang

seekor sapi ikut di belakang

bagaikan mendengar penuh perhatian

sepenuh kasih petani berkata

Sapiku sayang, maafkan aku

bantuanmu ku perlu.

ia lalu berdoa atas rachmat

Dewi Sri

tiga hari terakhir lewat

air mengairi ladangnya

ini hari baik amat

menurut kata-kata pendeta

dengan cinta dan rasa senang

dia menggarap sawah ladang

lembut tanah hitam subur

betapa dia rasakan

lututnya tertekuk

ketika dia menekan bajak

otot lengangnya koyak

sapi menolongnya membajak

bangau putih terbang rendah

menyambar atas tanah sawah

mencari belut lintah

di dalam lumpur tanah sawah

cepat-cepat capung-capung terbang

ketika bangau melayang untuk mematuk

pak tani istirahat sejenak

mengamati dan tersenyum

mengusap peluh kelopak mata

jauh pandang menerawang

Tenaga dia teguhkan

untuk kembali berkerja

kembali berlumpur tanah

dari sawah

yang indah


“The people of the village community work and administer the land but it is the property of the gods”.

These words are written in the constitution of every village in Bali. The Balinese have a profound respect and reverence for the land and its produce. Dewi Sri is the goddess of agriculture fertility and success. She represents everything good and beautiful and is the deity most favoured by the Balinese.

Each farmer that owns a sawah must belong to the subak. The subak is an agricultural society that controls the distribution of water to its members. Work must be done communally for the amount of water that is allocated to each member. Subaks are important to the prosperity of the Balinese people because the mountainous terrain in Bali makes water irrigation and its upkeep very difficult to maintain. Co-operation and harmony among neighbours is an important contributing factor to their much - deserved fame as the best rice growers in the archipelago. Two crops of the finest rice in Indonesia are produced each year.

At rice planting time each plant is placed carefully in a set position according to customs that are thousands of years old. Rice is planted and tended only by men and the owner of a sawah must plant the eastern corner of his field with his own hands. The work in the fields is done in the cooler part of the day, starting at dawn and then returning again at dusk. The heat of the day is spent at home or at the bale banjar. Some months are more labour intensive than others. At harvest time the villages are almost deserted as everyone, men, women and children work together to bring in the harvest. The people of Bali lived a relaxed lifestyle, a comfortable rhythm of work and pleasure.

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