Rules Of Syair Versifications By Raja Ali Haji[1]

*Falah Absurditas

These are the rules for composing Malay Syair. All of you who wish to compose Malay syair or pantun must first become familiar with the rules of the metre, rhyme and with defects in these, for any endeavour undertaken without first tudying from those who have already mastered it will be prone to errors and defects. Because of this, I have composed these these rules to serve as a guide for anybody who wishes to compose Malay syair. To Begin with, a perfect rhyming : thirdly, it must not be flawed by virtue of repetitions or irregularities. I have elaborated upon these in three sections below.

The First section deals with the syair metre. Be awere that a verse of a Malay syair is complete when it has four lines (masra’), which people liken to the four penels of a door[2]. Now each line is accented (ditimbang) four times with four kalimah, which means four words. Occasionally, however, a function word is joined with another utterance as if they wereon dord. The result is that the four lines comprise sixteen words. Here is an example :

“dengarkan tuan satu rencana

dikarang fakir daging yang hina

barangkali ada yang kurang kena

tuan betulkan jadi sempurna

The Second section deals with rhyme. To begin with, rhyme is the letter that falls at the end of each line, and there are two categoris. The first is the more beautiful : the second slightly less so. The more beautiful one has uniformity occurring before the end of the line, for example as follows :

dengarkan encik dengarkan tuan

dengarkan sudara muda bangsawan

nafsu dan hawa hendaklah lawan

supaya jangan kita tertawan

The third section deals with syair that are flawed. To Begin with, the falws in syair comprise three categories. Firstly, there are those where the rhyme is flawed XXX[3], but the meaning and intention cannot be discerned. As for those flawed with regand to their metrical composition, this is an example :

Hai sahabatku yang berbudi dan berakal

janganlah kamu lalai dan nakal

hendaklah kamu rajin tawaka

ketika mudamu mencari bekal”.


Falah Absurditas NietzscheEinstenian.


[1].  Ressence From Julian Millie. Bidasari : “Jewel Of Malay Muslim Culture”, and Raja Ali Haji . “dalam berkekalan persahabatan : “In Everlasting friedship””.

[2].  The term misra’ (Arabic for the leat, or planel of a door) is used by Raja Ali Haji for ‘line’. The metaphor originates in Arabic prosody. In arabic verse, one line consists of two clearly distinct halves, the second following the first horizontally. Because one half lies on the reader’s left, and the orther on her right, a whole line is likened to a door consisting of two door panels which meet in the middle, their hinges at opposite sides. The Malay text in this book is composed of stanzas with lines arranged underneath the preceding one. In Malay syair written in Arab/Malay Script, however, such as those written by Raja Haji, the first line of a stanza is followed by second by second on the horizontal plane, and the third by the fourth also on the horizontal plane. Hence, the “leaves of a door” metaphor’s applicable to Malay syair written in Malay.

[3]. The Critical apparatus gives the information that the text is incomplete at this point (Van der Putten and Al-azhar 1995 : 267). Di dalam berkekalan persahabatan : “In Everlasting friedship : Letter’s from Raja Ali Haji. Introduction and annotated by Jan van der Putten and Al-azhar. Leiden : Departement of languages and cultures of southeast Asia an Oceania, University Leiden.


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