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TWO POEMS BY JOSE GARCIA VILLA (1908-1997)

FIRST, A POEM MUST BE MAGICAL

First, a poem must be magical,


Then musical as a sea gull.
It must be a brightness moving
And hold secret a bird's flowering.
It must be slender as a bell,
And it must hold fire as well.
It must have the wisdom of bows
And it must kneel like a rose.
It must be able to hear
The luminance of dove and deer.
It must be able to hide
What it seeks, like a bride.
And over all I would like to hover
God, smiling from the poem's cover.

Source
The Philippines Herald Mid-Week Magazine. 18 Dec 1940.

SONG IX: SONG OF RIPENESS


The Coconut Poem

The coconuts have ripened.


They are like nipples to the tree,
(A woman has only two nipples,
There are many women-lives in a coconut tree.)
Soon the coconuts will grow heavy and fall;
I shall pick up one many
Like a child I shall suck their milk.
I shall suck out of coconuts little white songs:
I shall be reminded of many women.
I shall kiss a coconut because it is the nipple of
a woman.
1929

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


Page 1 of 17

AMBAHAN by the Hanunoo-Mangyan


1. Ako mana manrigsan
sa may panayo pinggan
sa may tupas balian
ako ud nakarigsan
tinambong bahayawan
sinag-uli batangan.
I would like to take a bath,
scoop the water with a plate,
wash the hair with lemon juice;
but I could not take a bath,
because the river is damned
with a lot of sturdy trunks!
2. Anong si kanaw bulan
sinmalag na rantawan
kabaton lugod ginan
salhag mabalaw diman
no ga tayo di ngaran
kang way inunyawidan
palalay ngatay tawidan
unhunon sab araw man
tida ti kanaw bulan
tida kuramo diman
may bantod pagpaday-an
may ratag pagrun-ugan
may ili pag-alikdan.
Look! the moon so full and bright,
shining in front of the house!
How can you explain to me,
that the rays are soft and cool?
If a man like us he were,
I would hold him by the hand!
Seize the hair to keep him back!
Grasp the clothes and make him stay!
But how could I manage that!
It is the moon in the sky!
The full moon shining so bright
going down beyond the hills,
disappearing from the plain,
out of sight beyond the rocks.
Translated by Antoon Postma

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


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WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616)


SONNET 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

SONNET 29
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

SONNET 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


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POEMS BY EMILY DICKINSON (1830-1886)


BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH

Because I could not stop for Death


He kindly stopped for me
The Carriage held but just Ourselves
And Immortality.
We slowly droveHe knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For His Civility
We passed the school, where children strove
At recessin the Ring
We passed the fields of gazing grain
We passed the setting sun
Or ratherHe passed us
The Dews grew quivering and chill
For only Gossamer my Gown
My Tippetonly Tulle
We paused before House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground
The Roof was scarcely visible
The Cornicein the Ground
Since thentis centuriesand yet each
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity.

MUCH MADNESS IS DIVINEST SENSE

Much Madness is divinest Sense


To a discerning Eye
Much Sensethe starkest Madness
'Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail
Assentand you are sane
Demuryou're straightway dangerous
And handled with a Chain
POEMS FOR HUMALIT
Page 4 of 17

SUCCESS IS COUNTED SWEETEST

Success is counted sweetest


By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory
As he defeateddying
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

COMPENSATION
For each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ratio
To the ecstasy.
For each beloved hour
Sharp pittances of years
Bitter contested farthings
And coffers heaped with tears.

THE SEA

An everywhere of silver
With ropes of sand
To keep it from effacing
The track called land.

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


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From Leaves of Grass by WALT WHITMAN (1819-1892)


I SIT AND LOOK OUT
I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds
done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate;
I see the wife misused by her husband--I see the treacherous seducer of young women;
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be hid--I see these sights on the
earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny--I see martyrs and prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea--I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be kill'd, to preserve the lives of
the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon
negroes, and the like;
All these--All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.
1860, 1971
WHEN I HEARD THE LEARND ASTRONOMER
When I heard the learnd astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wanderd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Lookd up in perfect silence at the stars.
1865

A NOISELESS PATIENT SPIDER


A noiseless patient spider,
I marked where on a promontory it stood isolated,
Marked how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launched forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be formed, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
1868

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W.H. AUDEN (1907-1973)

MUSE DES BEAUX ARTS

About suffering they were never wrong,


The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
1940

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


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PABLO NERUDA (1904-1973)


TONIGHT I CAN WRITE THE SADDEST LINES
Translated from the Spanish original into English by W.S. Merwin
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example, The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


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HAIKU AND IMAGIST POETRY

2
Cry not, insects!
Lovers, even the stars,
Must part.

BASHO (1644-1694)

1
On a withered branh
A crow has settled
Autumn nightfall.

2
The sea darkens;
The voices of the wild ducks
Are faintly white.

When I have decided not to love,


How I envy
Cats in love!

3
The old pond
A frog jumps in
The sound of water.

TAIGI

First love,
Their faces close together
By the stone lantern.

ETSUJIN

RAFAEL M. SALAS
Beneath the concrete
Voices of woman and child
A hand stops the pain
Source: Salas, Rafael M. Footprints. New York:
Weatherhill, 1986.

EZRA POUND
*
ISSA (1763-1827)

IN A STATION AT THE METRO

1
Dont go away!
Poor singer though you may be,
Youre my nightingale, mine!

The apparition of these faces in the


crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


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EDITH L. TIEMPO (b. 1919)

BONSAI
All that I love
I fold over once
And once again
And keep in a box
Or a slit in a hollow post
Or in my shoe.
All that I love?
Why, yes, but for the moment
And for all time, both.
Something that folds and keeps easy,
Sons note or Dads one gaudy tie,
A roto picture of a queen,
A blue Indian shawl, even
A money bill.
Its utter sublimation,
A feat, this hearts control
Moment to moment
To scale all love down
To a cupped hands size,
Till seashells are broken pieces
From Gods own bright teeth,
And life and love are real
Things you can run and
Breathless hand over
To the merest child.

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


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ROLANDO S. TINIO (1937-1997)

VALEDICTION SA HILLCREST

Pagkacollect ng Railway Express sa aking things


(Deretso na iyon sa barko while I take the plane.)
Inakyat kong muli ang N-311, at dahil dead of winter,
Nakatopcoat at galoshes akong
Nagright-turn sa N wing ng mahabang dilim
(Tunnel yatang aabot hanggang Tundo.)
Kinapa ko ang switch sa hall.
Sa isang pitik, nagshrink ang imaginary tunnel,
Nagparang ataol.
Or catacomb.
Strangely absolute ang impression
Ng hilera ng mga pintong nagpuprusisyon:
Individual identification, parang mummy cases,
De-nameplate, de-numero, de-hometown address.
Antiseptic ang atmosphere, streamlined yet.
Kung hindi catacomb, at least
E filing cabinet.
Filing, hindi naman deaths, ha.
Remembrances, oo. Yung medyo malapot
Dahil alam mo na, Im quitting the place
After two and a half years.
Di man nagkatiyempong mag-ugat, ika nga,
Siyemprey nagging attached, parang morning gloryng
Mahirap mapaknit sa alambreng trellis.
At pagkabukas ko sa kuwarto,
Hubot hubad na ang mattresses,
Wala nang kutson sa easy chair,
Mga drawer ng bureauy nakanganga,
Sabay-sabay nag-ooration,
Nagkahiyaan, nabara.
Of course, tuloy ang radiator sa paggaralgal:
Nasa New York na si Bob and the two Allans,
Yung mga quarterbacks across the hall
Pihadong panay ang display sa Des Moines.
Don ang Cosntance arent coming back at all.
Gusto ko nang magpaalam-to whom?
POEMS FOR HUMALIT
Page 11 of 17

The drapes? The washbowl? Sa double-decker


Na pinaikot-ikot naming ni Kandaswamy
To create space, hopeless, talagang impossible.
Of course, tuloy ang radiator sa paglagutok.
(And the stone silence,
nakakaiyak kung sumagot.)
Bueno, lets get it over with.
Its a long walk to the depot.
Tama na ang sophistication-sophistication.
Sa steep incline, pababa sa highway
Where all things level, sabi nga,
Theres a flurry, ang gentle-gentle.
Pagwhoosh-whoosh ng paa ko,
The snow melts right under:
Nagtutubig parang asukal,
Humuhulas,
nagsesentimental.

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


Page 12 of 17

MARJORIE M. EVASCO (b. 1953)

DREAMWEAVERS

We are entitled to our own


definitions of the world
we have in common
earth
water
fire
air
ether

house
well
stove
song
dream

(stay)
(carry)
(tend)
(sigh)
(die)

and try out new combinations


with key words
unlocking power
house on fire sing!
stove under water stay,
earth filled well die.
The spells and spellings
of our vocabularies
are oracular
in translation.
One woman in Pagnito-an
another in Solentiname
still another in Harxheim
naming
half the world together
can
must
be
will

move their earth


house their fire
water to their song
their dreams well.

SOURCE

Evasco, Marjorie M. Dreamweavers: Selected Poems. Manila: Editorial and Media Corporation, 1987.

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


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MERLINDA C. BOBIS (b. 1959)

KUMPISAL NG ISANG AMO

Ayoko ko silang umiyak na tuyo ang mga mata. Gusto kong lumusong sa
kanilang mga balintataw at iahon ang panahon ng taglagas.
Isa siya sa kanila, si Aling Nita. Bisaya. Mahilig umawit ng Dandansoyni hindi
nga alam ang buong kanta. Hindi niya ito mabuo palagi. Hindi niya matapus-tapos.
Bato si Aling Nita. Nakakayamot na bato. Kung murahin ko siya sa kainitan ng
aking ulo, kakarampot na hikbi. Pamumutla. Iyon lang. Nung paghahampasin ko siya
ng damit kong nasunog niya ng plantsa, wala. Ni hindi siya umimik. Napakabait ni Aling
Nita. Napakabato.
Lumayas ang kanyang asawa. May kinasamang iba. Sabi ng maid sa kabila na
ka-probinsiya niya, bata raw at maganda. Gumuhit ang ambon sa mga mata ni Aling
Nita. Bigla. Bigla ring nawala.
Nung Enero, may dumating na sulat. Kita ko, unti-unting tumanda si Aling
Nitang mga sampung taon. Makailang ulit niyang binuksan at tiniklop ang dilaw na
pad paper. Naalala ko ang alis-is ng mga tuyong dahon.
Na-kolera ang kanyang bunso. Hindi na siya pumunta sa libing. Mahal man,
Mam, ang pasahe sa barko. Di ko mawari ang kanyang ngiwi. Ang biglang laglag ng
pisngi at labi. Pira na lang pu ang ipadala ku. Mag-adbans ku, Mam, para tolo kabuwan? May kung anong tunog sa kanyang lalamunan. Isang malaking lunokkung
maaaring lunukin ang buong mundo sa isang lunukan, ganon siguro ang tunog. Ngunit,
ganon lang. Walang luha.
Dalawang buwanparang umurong na damit si Aling Nita. Yun sa isang labay
umiiksi kaagad. Ngunit walang madugong iyakan.
Basta na lang nawala ang
Dandansoy. Natapos.
Kanina, sabi ko sa kanya, wala na siyang utang. Yung huling buwan, abuloy ko
na lang kay bunso.
Salamat pu, Mam. Maraming salamat. Ay, ang bait ninyo, Mam. Salamat pu.
Salamat nang maraming-marami. Ka-buutan nimo, Mam
Mainit. Mainit na mainit ang mga unang patak sa aking braso.

Source
Bobis, Merlinda Carullo. Ang Lipad Ay Awit sa Apat na Hangin. Manila: Babaylan Womens
Publishing Collective, Institute of Womens Studies, St. Scholasticas College, 1990.

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


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RUTH ELYNIA S. MABANGLO (b. 1949)

KUNG IBIG MO AKONG MAKILALA

Kung ibig mo akong makilala,


lampasan mo ang guhit ng mahugis na balat,
ang titig kong dagat
yumayapos nang mahigpit sa bawat saglit
ng kahapon ko't bukas.
Kung ibig mo akong makilala,
sunduin mo ako sa himlayang dilim
at sa madlang pagsukol ng inunang hilahil,
ibangon ako at saka palayain.
Isang pag-ibig na lipos ng lingap,
tahanang malaya sa pangamba at sumbat
may suhay ng tuwa't kaluwalhatia'y
walang takda
ialay mong lahat ito sa akin
kung mahal mo ako't ibig kilalanin.
Kung ibig mo akong kilalanin,
sisirin mo ako hanggang buto,
liparin mo ako hanggang utak,
umilanlang ka hanggang kaluluwa
hubad ako roon: mula ulo hanggang paa.

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


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CIRILO F. BAUTISTA (b. 1941)

THE FOUNTAINS AT VILLA DESTE, TIVOLI

As if he owned the ocean.


Here, one mans dream explodes in
water, carved in splashing splendor
by lion teeth, angel mouth, breasts
of virgins that do not rest. Day
and night the liquid sizzles, channeling
the dream from terrace to terrace,
from stone to stone, till it gathers to a pool
that caresses the fish. My brain swims
with the fish as they trace their antique
silence to a thousand spouts
and fountains, then back to the pool again . . .
One dies again, also, bursting through
the skin, and flings his wingless wars
to the sun, broken and raining sadness
on the soul; but just for a moment,
like spumes in air, or the swing of swans
to shore, no longer, no better. Bodies
bloom and reel in space, juggled and spun by
light, by water, to flash a brilliance,
no longer, no better. Was this what he
thought, he who planned the garden of his mind,
to freeze that brilliance? Did he, in despair,
command the water to move his mind
to each crevice, each pool, each silent
sibilance, each flowing,
each song of many endings, each murmur,
while he slept, as if he owned the ocean?

*
Source
Bautista, Cirilo F. Believe and Betray: New and Collected Poems. Manila: De La Salle
University Press, 2006.

POEMS FOR HUMALIT


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J. NEIL C. GARCIA (b. 1969)

GIFT, 2
Lost in the seas
unforgiving blue,
I seek you.
Before me
the day unscrolls
its naked scripture:
sun, visions burning field,
islands, faint presences
crumbling in the distance,
water, the fickle immensities
life is made
constant by.
And it strikes me
I love the sea
because it borders
this suffering world
and the next:
the soul, it is said,
travels in a boat
from a winding inland river,
homing clear-eyed
toward the ocean
which is the bottomless
beyond.
And I know:
here, upon this beach,
wash the crushed remains
of what was once mortal:
bone and kelp,
driftwood and tentacle,
porous red coral
keepsakes
life leaves behind
before
dissolving
back to brine.
I am home here, then,

whom the world


never loved,
and from its torn edges
I can almost see
it all end:
an onrushing tide,
a radiant sea-swell
sweeping away all appearance,
gentle eddies
whittling the self
till it is no longer
even sand.
I think of you
landlocked and lost
in another element
your body.
The sea teaches me
love is a wish
not for safety
but for destruction.
I am not ashamed
to admit it:
I love you
the way water loves.
Which is to say
I wish the world
were through with you,
so you could return to me
ravaged, upon this shore:
a shell
held tight
inside my palm.
Source
Garcia, J. Neil C. The Sorrows of Water.
Quezon City: The University of the Philippines
Press, 2000.

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