Kalau sampai waktuku
Tak perlu sedu sedan itu!
Aku ini binatang jalang
Biar peluru menembus kulitku
Luka dan bisa kubawa berlari
Hingga hilang pedih peri
Dan aku akan lebih tidak peduli
When my time has come
I don't need that sniveling!
I'm but a wild animal
Even if bullets pierce my skin
Wounds and poison I'll take running
Until the pain leaves
And I will care even less
Anwar first read "Aku" at the Jakarta Cultural Centre in July 1943. It was then printed in Pemandangan under the title "Semangat" ("Spirit"); according to Indonesian literary documentarian HB Jassin, this was to avoid censorship and to better promote the nascent independence movement. "Aku" has gone on to become Anwar's most celebrated poem.
Indonesian writer Muhammad Balfas notes that one of Anwar's contemporaries, Bung Usman, wrote "Hendak Jadi Orang Besar???" ("So You Want to Be a Big Person???") in response to "Aku". Balfas suggests that Usman was greatly irritated by the "vitality and new way of life" that Anwar showed in the poem.
According to Timorese scholar of Indonesian literature A. G. Hadzarmawit Netti, the title "Aku" emphasizes Anwar's individualistic nature, while the temporary title "Semangat" reflects his vitality. Netti analyzes the poem itself as reflecting Anwar's need to control his environment and not be shaped by outside forces, emphasizing the first two stanzas. According to Netti, through controlling his environment, Anwar is able to better protect his freedom and individualistic nature. Netti sees the final line as reflecting Anwar's pride in his individualistic nature, finally surmising that Anwar would have agreed with Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism.
Indonesian literary scholar Arief Budiman notes that "Aku" reflects Anwar's worldview, that others should not care for him as he does not care for others. Budiman also notes that the third and fourth stanzas reflect Friedrich Nietzsche's view that suffering makes one stronger.
- Balfas, Muhammad (1976). "Modern Indonesian Literature in Brief". In L. F., Brakel. Handbuch der Orientalistik [Handbook of Orientalistics] 1. Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-04331-2.
- Budiman, Arief (2007). Chairil Anwar: Sebuah Pertemuan [Chairil Anwar: A Meeting] (in Indonesian). Tegal: Wacana Bangsa. ISBN 978-979-23-9918-9.
- Djamin, Nasjah; LaJoubert, Monique (1972). "Les Derniers Moments de Chairil Anwar" [The Last Moments of Chairil Anwar]. Achipel (in French) 4 (4): 49–73. doi:10.3406/arch.1972.1012. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- Jassin, Hans Bague (1978). Chairil Anwar Pelopor Angkatan 45 [Chairil Anwar, Leader of the 45 Generation] (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Gunung Agung. OCLC 30051301.
- Netti, A. G. Hadzarmawit (2011). Sajak-Sajak Chairil Anwar dalam Kontemplasi [Chairil Anwar's Poems in Contemplation] (in Indonesian). Surabaya: B You Publishing. ISBN 978-979-17911-4-4.