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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

entry arrow7:28 PM | Moon of Change

I was riding home on a pedicab from gym. It was past dusk, and the city was a beehive of people rushing home from work, or doing their shopping or dining. My pedicab passed by the Dumaguete Boulevard, and as usual, my mind was somewhere else, exhausted.

And then there it was, off the dark horizon which was the sea: a great big ball of yellowness. A strange, almost frightening, yellow moon.

Which immediately reminded me of Angela Manalang Gloria's oft-anthologized poem -- a personal favorite, because it was one of the first poetic attempts by Filipino writers in English to break free from one tradition, which was romanticism.

For me, this poem signals what may be the first signs of growth in our poetic literature. All changes for me -- good or bad -- is growth, and anyone can readily see that from Maramag and the Subidos, to Villa and Gloria, to Tiempo and Angeles, to Dumdum and Amper, to Evasco and Gamalinda, and now to Manalo and Suarez. I realize that the intermittent stages of change is often fraught with criticism from purists and (dare I say it?) formalists, but I guess all that discourse is part of any evolving literature.

In this particular poem, Gloria still maintains some of the romantic traditions of her peers, down to the use of natural imagery. But here, she employs a twist: no longer are the moon and stars and the "fragrance of lilies, rose-released musk" (from Trinidad Tarrosa-Subido's "Sonnet to a Gardener II") mere wallpaper to evoke romatic atmosphere; they now actually take on some deeper dimension, sometimes even psychological. Like the yellow moon here, which the persona professes to be "afraid of." And gone are the strict cadence, the artifice, the blatant imititativeness, the archaic words. This was finally liberating free verse!

Yellow Moon
By Angela Manalang Gloria

I stand at my window and listen;
Only the plaintive murmur of a swarm of cicadas.
I stand on the wet grass and ponder,
And turn to the east and behold you,
Great yellow moon.
Why do you frighten me so,
You captive of the coconut glade?
I have seen you before,
Have flirted with you so many a night.

When my heart, ever throbbing, never listless,
Had pined for the moonlight to calm it.
But you were a dainty whiteness
That kissed my brow then.
A gentle, pale flutter
That touched my aching breast.

You are a lonely yellow moon now.
You are ghastly, spectral tonight,
Behind your prison bars of coconut trees.
That is why
I do not dare take you into my hand
And press you against my cheek
To feel how cold you are.

I am afraid of you, yellow moon.

There you go. Now, I'm off to a weekend of work. No vacation for me. I want all my grades done come Monday, so I can go off into the moonrise somewhere, probably Siquijor.

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich