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Poet Wahyu Wibisana Dies

Literature | Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 | sundanesecorner.org

Hawé Setiawan

Wahyu Wibisana (1935-2014)

Wahyu Wibisana (1935-2014)

Poet Wahyu Wibisana, one of the most prominent figures in the history of modern Sundanese literature, passed away on early Monday morning (October 13th) at around 00.30 a.m. at Bandung’s Al-Islam Hospital. He was 79.

Being under medical treatment for the past few days due to his heart and lung problems, the poet died, leaving a wife, four children, and nine grandchildren.  Mourners, including myself, came to his home in Bandung’s northern suburb of Gegerkalong.

At the house, which he named ‘Tjiawaking’ (literally means ‘my body’s abode’), the poet’s body was lying with a handsome face. Above the body, on a piece of wooden board that also marks the boundary of the living room, a saying was written in Arabic language and script along with its equivalent in ancient Sundanese script. Apparently quoted from the Quran, it stated that human being (al-insan) will finally come to a stop point (tammat).

The life and time of an individual is indeed brief, yet culture is necessarily long-lived. After all, his influence, and temperament as well, are strong. He will be remembered. Many places in Bandung, also in Bogor, are named  by the poet, e.g.  ‘Babakan Siliwangi’ city forest, ‘Rumentangsiang’ Theatre, and the now defunct ‘Palaguna’ shopping mall. Many of his words became popular, such as the so-called ‘wangsit Siliwangi’ (literally means ‘a message of King Siliwangi’). In other words, through the works of the late poet, Sundanese society and culture has found proper expressions.

His works span many genres. In the field of literature, he composed poetry — either free or metrical —, short stories, and essays. In the field of music, he composed the lyrics for the composition of the late Mang Koko (Koko Koswara). In the field of theatre, he wrote, directed, and produced many gending karesmén (a sort of musical plays). In the field of journalism, he was one of the pioneering figures of Manglé, a Sundanese magazine published since 1957.


A prayer for the dead was held at Al-Furqan Mosque in the compound of Indonesian University of Education (UPI) campus, near to his home. The deceased was afterward brought to his birthplace in West Java’s regency of Tasikmalaya, some 90 kilometres east of Bandung.

The ambulance that carried the body arrived in Cipinang, a kampong in Tasikmalaya’s district of Cisayong where the poet built a private villa in 1996, before noon. The body was buried in a family cemetery at the backyard of the house, closed to the tombs of his beloved mother, father, and sister. Members of his family were present in the burial as well as some of his contemporaries, e.g. writer and scholar Yus Rusyana, writer and journalist Usép Romli, Pasundan University Vice Rector T. Subarsyah, and poet Godi Suwarna.***


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