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July 20, 2020, 05.02 PM

TANGERANG, KOMPAS.comIndonesian literature has lost one of its leading figures, eminent poet Sapardi Djoko Damono, who passed away Sunday, July 19. He was 80.

“[Sapardi] died of natural causes,” said his relative Nana Subianto, prior to interring him at Giritama cemetery in Bogor, West Java.

“He was treated at the Eka Hospital in South Tangerang since July 9. His organs started to fail because of complications from a long-running illness.”

Thousands of netizens paid tribute to Sapardi, the majority of whom recited his poems.

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“There is no rain in June/ but a rain of tears in July/ That is why I want to love you in my simple fashion/ with words left unsaid/ to tell a tale that has become a history of our [love]," Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle [PDI-P] legislator and Budiman Sudjatmiko said on Twitter.

The tweet is part of Sapardi's beloved poem Hujan Bulan Juni (June Rain).

Born on March 20, 1940 in Solo, Central Java, Sapardi was a leading Indonesian poet of his era, alongside his late contemporary W.S. Rendra.

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He published verse anthologies and other literature for over 40 years from 1969 to 2012, the most notable of which are Suddenly the Night in 1988 and Hujan Bulan Juni: Pilihan Sajak (June Rain: Selected Poems) in 1995.

He was also known for his translations of foreign authors into Indonesian. These include his translations of classics like John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, both of which were acclaimed as the best of their kind.

Sapardi was also a lecturer at Universitas Indonesia’s Faculty of Literature from 1974 to 2005, eventually becoming a professor there and its dean in 1995.

(Writers: Jawahir Gustav Rizal, Singgih Wiryono, | Editors: Rizal Setyo Nugroho, Krisiandi, Nursita Sari)


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