May 1954

We do but merely ask,
No more, no less, this much:
That you white man,
Boasting of many parts,
Some talk of Alexander, some of Hercules.
Some broken not long ago
By little yellow soldiers
Out of the Rising Sun...
We ask you see
The bitter, curving tide of history,
See well enough, relinquish,
Restore this place, this sun
To us... and the waiting generations.

Depart white man.

Your minions riot among
Our young in Penang Road
Their officers, un-Britannic,
Full of service, look
Angry and short of breath.

You whored on milk and honey
Tried our spirit, spent our muscle,
Extracted from our earth;
Gave yourselves superior ways
At our expense, in our midst.

You knew when to come;
Surely know when to go.

Do not ignore, dismiss,
Pretending we are foolish;
Harbour contempt in eloquence.
We know your language.

My father felt his master's voice,
Obeyed, but hid his grievous, wounded self.
I have learnt:
There is an Asian tide
That sings such power
Into my dreaming side:
My father's anger turns my cause.

Depart Tom, Dick and Harry.
Gently, with ceremony;
We may still be friends,
Even love you... from a distance.

by Edwin Thumboo
from Ulysses by the Merlion (1979)