Recently the Indonesian poet, novelist and essayist Sitor Situmorang reached the age of eighty. Situmorang has a Christian background; his origins are to be found in the Batak area in North Sumatra. His life and work have been summarized as 'to love, to wander'; in a way he has been a perennial wanderer and pilgrim, roaming around in many places of the world and being home, finally, in his poems. Part of his life he spent in prison as a political detainee. In this article we analyse the motif of 'the lost [prodigal] son' which occurs no less than four times in Situmorang's lyrical work, each time in a different context and with a different meaning. Connected with the role of the father and the mother and of a deep longing for his native village, this motif forms an important thread in his poetry, which often has religious allusions.