Wang Gungwu, Head, East Asia Institute, National University of Singapore

Plus One

Beneath a foreign sky

In this alien night,

Antique rites survive

To tell of yearly life.

An ancient powder is set alight.

Of late, no poets sing of this moonlessness.

They rhyme their loves instead.

They see not the revel for the dead,

Nor hear the babble of the pleasure-eaters,

Whose import-cakes are local made.


Ah those feminine fingers

Orient paper red, King George's head!

It's everyone's birthday,

So warble your kung-heis gay.


Among the offerings and the candles,

The silks, brocades and bangles,

Runs the happy little tune

Of "One year older."


A wee bit bolder,

In this foreign night

Neath an alien sky,

One year older.



Reproduced with the kind permission of Wang Gungwu.

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Singapore Literature Overview

Last Modified: 25 July, 2002