Bulan April ia-lah bulan yang dzalim sa-kaliI say attempted because I think Burgess gave up before he got much further. It's one thing to be able to find equivalent words and quite another to cope with all the references to things that the local audience has had no experience of.
membawa bunga lilac daripada tanah mati
menchamporkan ingatan dengan nafsu.
A Malaysian audience would ask: What's so special about April? Why is it "cruel"? And what's a lilac anyway?
How can anyone who hasn't experienced it first-hand truly understand the stirrings of new life after the grey and freezing winter?
It's a lesson I wish could be learned by those who set the literature syllabuses here! I've already mentioned the ubiquitous Daffodils. And then there's Sonnet 18 on the present SPM syllabus - how do you explain to Malaysian kids just why a poet might want to compare his lady love to a hot sunny day when we suffer from an overabundance of heat and sun?
Burgess apparently wrote a book called English Literature: A Survey for Schools while he was in Malaya just prior to independence. This quote may well cheer you all up:
Chinese, Malays, Africans and Indians reading this book may well themselves contribute to English literature.They may. They just may!
Burgess also wrote a piece for orchestra called Symphoni Malaya. I've never heard it performed and have no idea if it's any good or not. But maybe the MPO could resurrect it!