February 24, 2012

[Readings in Philippine Literature: Poetry # 1] The Flaming Lyre, Quietness, Youth Speaks---three poems by Amador T. Daguio

At least once a month, I will endeavor to feature a Filipino poet and his/her poems in my blog. I’m doing this for two reasons: I want to work on my poetry appreciation and I hope to share to you the beautiful literary creations of my fellow Filipinos that deserve to be read and spread about. I am no scholar so reviewing poems is not within my capacity (yet) but I will try to share my reflections on these poems and shed light on some, if not all, of the passages.

Today, I start off with talented Filipino poet Amador Daguio. In a joint venture, Mel U of The Reading Life and I already featured him and his short stories, The Wedding Dance and The Woman who Looked out of the Window. Mind you, this joint venture of featuring Filipino short story writers is not exclusive to the two of us. We encourage you to join us. If you have read on a short story by a Filipino writer, why don’t you make a post on it and we could exchange links? We want to get the word out about the richness and vibrancy of Filipino short stories.

Now, about Daguio, I already made a concise post on him as a short story writer in particular and a literary figure in the Philippines in general. As a poet, I should say he is one talented and gifted one. There is cute anecdote about him on how poetry came naturally to him: As a kid, he wrote a poem on the blackboard to console his classmates who were crying after they heard their teacher will be leaving. The teacher was touched by his gesture, prompting Daguio to realize how words can move people.

We don’t know exactly what poem he wrote on the board but he wrote many more poems in the years that followed. I already posted his poem on Man of Earth and To Those of Other Lands in a previous post about his short stories The Wedding Dance and The Woman who Looked out of the Window. Here, I will post on his other poems:

The Flaming Lyre

God gave me a flaming lyre and said,
“Play this with golden care.”
“May I play, God, with my words instead,”
I said, “to do my share?”

“No, you must play the lyre,
Your words are not yet good.”
“But how shall I touch strings of fire,”
I asked, “to get to the mood?”

“Just pluck your heartbeats, boy,” he said,
“And pluck the things you see,
And you will findhow strings are fed
By the sounds that come from me.”

Then God returned to His Home in the sky,
And tried His flaming lyre,
And wonders! when sounds did fly,
There were words of my desire!

Since then I have played and played strange notes
And when I listen well,
The words dance as if their music floats
From the soul of God’s magic bell.

This poem shows where Daguio gets his inspiration for his writing. I am no critical expert in poetry, but I noticed how the rhyme are not forced. I think that is what I love about his writing--the natural flow of events using words that could be easily understood. Flaming Lyre is also the title of his book of poems published in 1959. The Flaming Lyre contains 56 poems of varying length and topics.

Here’s another poem he made:


I am a lover of quietness---
Unechoed songs within a silent heart,
A silver pond, a statued loveliness
Where words can take no part.

I love the quiet ways of memory,
The quiet looks to give you loving praise,
The quiet secrets of your ministry
Through quiet nights and days.

The quiet mountains of the earth I love,
The soaring cloud, the sun, the dewy leaf,
My quiet questioning of God above,
My quiet, tearless grief.

When I read this poem, various images came to me--a wise man merely enjoying the pleasure of silence or a wise man enjoying the pleasure of the mountains and thankfully appreciating the beauty of nature. I could sympathize with Daguio when he said the last stanza. There used to be a lot of trees and fauna around my home so when industrialization conquered them, I grieved over their loss. And when I drive on my way home and see the beautiful mountains on a horizon, they seem so heartbreakingly far.

Here’s a last poem by Daguio for this post to think about:

Youth Speaks

We voice no Apologies.
We were caused by our time.
What we say happened to us.
Who have dared cold horizons.
So we say to you all:
We, too, have tasks to perform.

We love this country no less
Than lawmakers, money-lenders,
Governors, factory owners,
Or hacenderos. We offer
Our strength for foundations.
But first, we must clear this land.

We must cut down thick jungles
Before we can lay strong foundations.
We must drain protozoan marshes,
Burn old sores, cancerous flesh.
We who will inherit this land,
Fathers, elders, why disinherit us?
We who are young, longing and lonely,
Why do you poison our growth?

What if we are not privileged?
We love our country even much more
Perhaps than those who wallow in security
If we denounce wrongs, know that
Our cry begs for our need;
We do not wreck; we wish to perform,
To plan proud blooms that will live---
Allow us then; give us your trust.

This is a screaming plea to politicians, teachers, doctors, lawyers and all the elders in the country to give the young generation the chance to do their jobs and contribute to nation-building. Though this poem is an old one, it still remains relevant today.

What other poems by Amador Daguio would you recommend? Which of the three poems featured in this post struck you? Please don’t hesitate to post your thoughts here. Thanks!