I Talk Way Too Much 

Reading Three of Trinidad Tarrosa- Subido’s Poems


Picture
A Brief Biography:

                 Trinidad Tarrosa- Subido was a working student at the University of the Philippines- Manila in 1932. She met her husband, Abelardo Subido, at the same school. She was a member of the University’s Writing Club and contributed her works, like her sonnets.  She died in 1994. Some of her works (89 poems) have been posthumously published by her family in a book that was published by Milestone Publication entitled Private Edition: Sonnets and Other Poems.

I. You Shall Be Free

                  On a surface reading of her poem, which is a Shakespearean sonnet (14 lines, rhyme scheme: a b a b c d c d e f e f g g), it seems that the poet is talking about setting her loved one free, that she doesn’t want him to be tied to her anymore, and that because she loves him she must set him free, “ I will not hold you by restraining hands/ Nor yet by tears that silently accuse./ You shall be free...” Period.  But I think that if one would do a close reading of the poem, one could find that this might not necessarily be the case. It could be that she wants the country to be free from the Americans. She wants the country to be as free as the “waters on the strands/ That come and go, and tarry, as they choose.” Water cannot be cupped and restrained by the hands and comparing the country’s freedom to a thing such as water is not a coincidence in my opinion. She did not compare the said freedom to air because I think that water, being more tangible, gives a more solid idea of what freedom looks like. 

II. Vanity

                 The poet is comparing herself to a Foreign Woman. In the first stanza of the poem, she sees the Foreign woman as someone who is very beautiful, very appealing “Burnished copper dusts are glinting from her hair/ White as the tropic sky her face; her eyes sea-blue/ Like the silver of a levant star her smile”.  In the second stanza, the poet is describing herself, “ My eyes are dark and, too, my hair/ And brown the flesh that shrouds my soul”. She, if she only can do so, wants to become like the “Foreign Woman” in her own land, “If I should die tonight and be reborn/ O, Lord Creator, make me too/ A foreign woman to my native land.” which for me is weird just because. Pity they didn’t have Belo or Glutathione back then. It would have sold like hotcakes. They do now. Haha.But of course, the poet could be sarcastic. She might want to portray the extent of the Americans’ corruption of the Filipino ideal through this poem.  

 


Vanity just might be a much needed punch in the face for critical people who are diagnosed with colonial mentality. Filipinos today want to be fairer, taller, whatever. The poem for me might also be a prediction of the fate of the Filipinos in the American colonists’ fair-skinned hands. This is a tragedy, I think, this wanting to trade in one’s being a Filipino to become someone who one is really not. But of course, I’m moralizing. I want to become a nun. Haha (For those of you who have no sense of humor, of course, I was and still am being SARCASTIC). 

III. Muted Cry

                   This poem has three stanzas and is divided into three sections. Compared to the previous two poems, this one is quite lengthy with 42 lines. The first stanza in section I starts and ends with the line “They took away the language of my blood”. What a line! It’s simple yet it sums up what the poet feels. The poet might be referring to the assimilation of English as THE language in the Philippines “Giving me one ‘more widely used’”. English is not really the “more widely understood” language, I think. The Americans say that it is. I don’t really believe them. Anyway, what matter (or mattered) to them is that they understand (or understood) the Filipinos, so they took great pains to teach the “natives” their language (to better colonize us with? Haha). The second stanza states the poet’s desperately wanting to learn the “language of [her] blood”, the language of her ancestors.  In section II, in the first stanza, the poet cites the Greats (Shakespeare, Dante (Dante by the way, whom we discussed in our CL 121 class, wrote a paper, de Vulgari Eloquentia, which is about the use and the preference of one’s own tongue in expression), Sappho) who wrote in their own tongues “Never their language being them denied”. I think she’s envious of them in a way haha.  Stanza II expresses the poet’s desire to follow the footsteps of her ancestors and to carve a niche in their spot or to make a mark in her ancestors’ land.  Stanza III I think is her way of saying that if she wrote in “the language of [her] blood” she would have the freedom that she longs for in writing “Ah, could I speak the language of my blood/ I, too, would free the poetry in me/ And this now apathetic world would be/ Awakened…”. Section III contains only one stanza which for me echoes the poet’s regret for the “loss” of the “language of [her] blood” because it was taken away from her most probably by the American (and by the Spanish colonizers, in a way) colonizers when they colonized (a euphemism for “invaded”? Haha) the Philippines. She sounds like she was raped but instead of her virginity being the thing that is taken away from her “They took away the language of [her] blood”.  Ω

Source:
N/a. "Trinidad Tarrosa- Subido." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 26 Feb. 2011. Web. 26 June 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinidad_Tarrosa-Subido>.

My Reading of Three of Rafael Zulueta y da Costa’s Poems

Picture
Who the Heck Was He?

Rafael Zulueta y da Costa was born on 1915. He goes by several names: 1.) R. Zulueta da Costa as a writer and 2.) Rafael Zulueta as a businessman.  He has a degree from De La Salle University in  business administration, quite a far cry from the Zulueta who wrote poems. He won the Commonwealth Award for Poetry for his poem Like the Molave and Other Poems in 1940. 

I. Today’s Song

This poem is about saluting Today, if Today was a person.  Most of us take the Present for granted (*coughs* guilty as charged haha, I apologize profusely for attempting to inject this entry with my sick brand of humor---it’s not even funny haha). What matters is Today, not Tomorrow, not Yesterday. The poet is neither in a hurry to chase Tomorrow “Tomorrow?---It matters not” , nor is he a happy camper when it comes to the Past “And yesterday?---I have forgot---” (he apparently has forgotten it). All he is living for is Today because for him “It is enough to be”. Another reading of the poem would be that this quatrain is the speaker's way of pretending/ deluding himself (and his readers) that the future and the past are not important. But the things is, he still thinks about the future even if "it matters not" and he still talks about the past even if he has apparently "forgotten" it. It might be that he is still and will be connected to the two ideas and times. 

                                                      II. The Soldiers

This is a Petrarchan sonnet (I think, if my memory serves me right). The octaves (the first eight lines) have a rhyme scheme of a b b a a b b a while the remaining six lines (the sestet) have a rhyme scheme of c d c d c c. I am becoming quite critical here haha. Anyway, the octet presents the poet or the persona or the Filipino who is mourning the dead “I bring no flowers for the dead; my lips/ Do not remember them…Was not death victory for truth? Wax drips/ In generous remembrance; tears eclipse/ the run of blood…” The sestet meanwhile presents the poet offering this poem to the dead soldiers who died in the war/s during America’s colonization of our country. The last two lines (the couplet) “…Your shrine; when ended is grief-holiday/ Pray’r will, with flags, be neatly tucked away.” I think mean that like the tucked away flags, the memories of these dead soldiers will be tucked away somewhere, either to be remembered or to be left bathing in dust because they are forgotten.  

                                                       III. Eroica

Eroica is Italian for “heroic”. It seems to me that this is in a way a depiction of heroism “So now we are alone in this great waste/ O f fragments of a lost and vanished world” because they have braved this seemingly post-Apocalyptic world.  The first eight lines of the poem could convey the loss of freedom in a colonized country or it could be taken to mean the loss of innocence and youth because they lived through the death and the devastation of their land “In this great vast where we, a million years/ Ago, first heard earth-song at cool of dawn/ First felt brush of godly wings; looked up/ And traced the pattern of eternal stars…” It could be that they have become stoic in their view of the world “So long ago, we have forgotten how/ To weep before the miracle of beauty/ Forgotten how the running of our blood/ Was one with the running water of all tides/ Of all time.” It could be that they have “forgotten” these things because these have been “taken away” by the colonizers like their taking “the language of [her] blood” in Tarrosa- Subido’s Muted Cry

Sources: 

N/a. "Eroica." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 30 Apr. 2010. Web. 26 June 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eroica>.

N/a. "R. Zulueta Da Costa." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 19 Nov. 2010. Web. 26 June 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._Zulueta_da_Costa>.