Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/395

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379
MALAY LITERATURE.

flowers in order to preserve the abnormity. Concerning this last my correspondent said that it is all the same whether the seed is taken from the capsules of monstrous flowers or from the whole spike. Seed taken in this way will give from twenty-five to thirty-five per cent of the monstrous flowers, but the ratio varies from year to year.

There are some advantages to the floriculturist in the monstrous form as the first bloom in it is uppermost and very conspicuous, while in the normal form the blooms appear from below upward, and the drooping tip of the spike is the last to produce flowers. The case in hand is a remarkable deviation from the type in many ways, but most interesting of all is the fact that floriculturists have by selection developed a variety that, in a packet of a hundred seeds, is quite certain to give some plants of the type "monstrosa," which it bears as its trade name.

 

MALAY LITERATURE.
By R. CLYDE FORD.

THE Malay has a literature peculiarly his own, and in it comes to light all that subtle appreciation of Nature which marks him as a Naturmensch, but not a savage. This lore of his race he carries mostly in his memory, for to reduce it to writing has been, until recently, a task at once laborious and scholarly, and the ordinary Malay, living in the ease of perpetual summer, is neither. Still, there are dog-eared old manuscripts which circulate from one village or campong to another, and these are often read aloud in the evenings to eager companies. And it makes a scene never to be forgotten, to see a dozen people seated in the shadows around some old man and to listen to the mellow cadences of his voice as he reads to them a tale of the olden time, of the great days of his race, before the foreigner's ships had scared the fish from the bays or turned them into noisy harbors; the sparkling stars peep through the ragged, whispering fronds of the palm trees, the yellow light of the damar torch shines on eager faces, crickets chirp in the grass, and from afar comes the booming of the sea borne on the soft breath of the night wind.

Malay literature, like most literatures, has had an ancient and a modern period. In the former we behold a primitive people dominated by Sanskrit life and civilization, and naturally enough the literature of this time is mostly translations of Sanskrit poems and romances, or at least productions inspired by such, and full of allusions to Hindu mythology. Probably to this early time may be