Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Singapore River

Photo By Yip Cheong-Fun, FRPS, Hon. EFIAP, FPSS, FSEAPS, OPCNYPS
(The photographer was elected "Honorary Outstanding Photographer of the Century" by the Photographic Society of New York in 1980, and was a recipient of the Cultural Medallion of the Republic of Singapore in 1984, the highest national award given to an individual for his or her contribution and achievements in art and culture.)

The Singapore River closely mirrors Singapore`s national life in all its stages. The history of Singapore has its beginnings in this river, when Sir Stamford Raffles and some men first steered their boats into the entrance of a swampy river in January 1819. From this humble beginning, the Singapore River began a historical evolution. It first evolved from a muddy mangrove-lined water course with crocodiles lurking dangerously in search of preys, to a mooring place and a waterway for thousands of bumboats, abutting myriads of old godowns out of which came crates and bales, baskets and boxes carried on the shoulders by coolies to small craft. Then the river turned into a polluted port area and an industrial gutter in which not even the hardiest of fish could survive.

Lady River - Andrew Yip

Remember the folks who first came to our shores,
Fleeing from floods, famine, starvation and wars.
Remember they cleared the forests, pushed back the sea.
They braved the storms and swamps, and built the place that is home to me.

Lady River, your beauty shone and lived on.
Though you might haunt, yet neither tease nor taunt.
How they came - just the same,
Not minding the rugged hills, and nature untame.

Lady River, you`ve launched a thousand ships from distant shores,
Like the Grecian beauty the ancients loved, and the modern man adores.
Thousands of junks, bum-boats, lighters nestled around,
And coolies carrying cargo crates abound.

But like unwelcome guests, they were soon gone,
Leaving behind worn-down warehouses that drew a yawn,
Now you`re very clean; even pristine,
As the twinkling skyline of affluence hems you in.

Then urban renewal plunged right in - dazzling your tearless eyes.
Its magic wand changed all - to modernise or harmonise.
Even the Merlion spewing water from its mouth has shifted.
You`ve survived and thrived - your history and tradition lifted.

You`ve watched time wink - its tricks you understand -
Whatever the fetish, fad or new trend.
Whatever slogan, jargon, or dish delicious -
They`re sometimes serious, often hilarious.

Your weary eyes have seen armies, and statesmen,
Suicides of forlorn coolies and depressed steersmen,
Floating bodies of executed spies and war victims,
Choirs and orchestras with their stirring music or hymns.

You have witnessed senseless invasions, occupations and reoccupations;
Mergers and acquisitions, debates and discussions;
The economy`s boom and gloom and recession;
And urban changes with conservation and preservation.

O Lady River, the fleeting years have not dimmed your complexion.
Twelve tall bridges are still your constant companion.
History and heritage charter your course and give direction.
Footsteps along your banks quietly follow your tradition.

Poem: Andrew Yip (Copyright)
"The boats are gone now
Carried away in tides of cliche
Policy sifted the river, its waters swelling now
Not with trade but pride, a tourist lure
In twinkling lights along the quay.
The boat house at the corner stands still
A colonial restaurant today,
A mockery of days
Gone by, almost forgotten, except
For this single, astute eye."

Singapore River thru a poet's eyes - Lemiel
"The River of Life"
"In the river of life, there is bound to be constant attrition, corrasion or erosion along its narrow winding course. There may be rapids or sharp falls and a great deal of sedimentation. There may be confluence with other lives, as the river meanders along joined by other tributaries, and one might just get confused or lost, because in this river of no return, there are few guiding lights. Much depends on how strong are the riverbanks and what forms the bedrock of the river valley. "
"The River of Life" - Andrew Yip
"If time is the river of my life,
It flows free searching for a serene sea.
Deep and dangerous is its carefree course -
A river of no return with no guiding lights to see."
(an extract from Andrew's poem, "Time - a reflection" )

A mother's love - Andrew Yip
(A special dedication to Sharon on Mother's Day 2008)

I still have a love of gold,
Purer and brighter than the sun.
Friends and fascinations come and go,
But this love endures - a blessing for everyone.

There is nothing more sublime
Than a mother's sweet love and care.
Even in youthful prime, and for all time,
It shines eternal - a glittering gem, serene and rare.

I still feel her salty tears at times,
Tides of memories swarm my mind,
Even the lull of lullabies and nursery rhymes,
The day I had fever and those tear-drops left behind.

Her job was a distant way.
But she still drove home each day
Through highways and by-ways
Beating the tricky traffic lights as always.

Was it yesterday she came,
Across the miles at midday just the same,
That I felt assured by her hug and kiss?
And for all eternity, it's a mother's love I miss.

With all my love, Mum.