Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sabang, Indonesia

Sabang is a city consisting of an island (Weh Island) and several smaller islands off the northern tiup of Sumatra. The islands form a regency within Aceh Special Region, Indonesia.

Lowry refers to the city in his short story 'Goya The Obscure' and in a letter to John Davenport dated 27th October 1930; "The third - (Richard Ghormley Ebehart!), unamazed in meditation looked up from Persia - more likely sailing down the coast by Iloilo, Zamboanga, Sabang, anywhere, Eberhart Icarus at this time". (Collected Letters Vol 1 Pg. 73-74).

The letter is influenced by Lowry's reading of Richard Eberhart's poem A Bravery of Earth published in 1930. Eberhart's poem reflected his experiences at Cambridge University and his time as a ship's hand in the Far East which would have had obvious appeal to Lowry.

There is no documentary evidence to suggest that Lowry visited the city as part of his 1927 voyage to the Far East. It would appear that Lowry's mention of the peninsular is also part of a youthful obsession with the "exotic East" which, manifested itself in the composing of the song 'I've Said Goodbye to Shanghai' with his Cambridge musical partner Ronald Hill. Lowry may have also known that the port was often visited by Blue Funnel Line ships.

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