Tagalog and English Poetics

Tagalog and English Poetics explain a series of poems inspired by the stories of Esther and Ruth in the Bible. Poetics is understood here as "the study of linguistic techniques in poetry and literature". 

According to Saussure, a "sign" connects the "sound or image," the signifier, to a "concept," the signified. The position of signifiers in relation to other signifiers in a given context produces meaning that is other than the concept signified. Lacan says that meaning in language can be found "only in the signifying chain", which stays in the unconscious. The normal meaning of a word is only one, or some, or a part of the chain of concepts.

In the stanzas below, the grouping of names invokes a conceptual chain of meaning:


sculpture is by Julie Lluch

Paunahin si Dina, kasunod si Sara, Rebeca

Ang anak ni Jepthah na bagong dalaga

Si Mizpah, Bathsheba, Rahab, si Maria

Ang ina ng Tao, yaong magdalena


(At bago magtanghal ay paiindakin si Michal

Asawa ni David na ayaw sumayaw.)

Abigail, tumahimik ka, itabi ang dunong

At ikaw Peninah, huwag bumulong-bulong.


The first group of names (first stanza) is of women in the Bible who are accorded a crisis situation. Their crisis wrote them either as victors or victims. Their stories are all intensely female. The next group of names (second stanza) belongs to women with ambivalent status. They are pitted against an other in their narrative. They are wise, and rebellious, and behaved not according to what is demanded of them, but as they choose to behave.

These characters are imagined in the Tagalog vernacular. While the poem has a biblical precedent which is predicated in ancient Jewish culture, the culture of the Tagalog becomes the closest reference of the poem's meaning. But while the fictional precedent is outside biblical hermeneutics, an understanding of the narratives in the Bible will support a correct interpretation. In other words, without having read the books in the Bible narrating these tales, the reader might not get the metaphorical allusions.

A listing and enumeration of women from the Bible serve the feminist narratives since each name is as plot and event performed in the vernacular.

sculpture is by Julie Lluch


Sisilipin sa matang mapaglaro ang tanging pinto

Papasukin ang kulambong kubol, burka, belo, tato,

Ikot ng alampay, hubog ng palasyo. Aangkinin

Ang labing bubukas sasara halika


In particular, a narrative of a woman's deep desire to get out of a perceived mold prevails. When a woman sashays on a platform or stage and projects an image that is much objectified in the gaze of the other, the runway becomes witness to a transformation and the contest itself takes on the role of the deliverer.

The poem attempts to cross over time and culture, and its performance is set as in a beauty contest in a contemporary setting. But the poem is a feminist critic of this spectacle, highlighting its neurosis, rather than showcasing beauties.


Kailangan ngayon ang pagsasabwatan

Makikipagtipan, mag-aastang bituin ng trahedya

Asamin ang paghawi ng telon, akuin ang palabas

Humanda sa kritiko. Galingan ninyo!


On the one hand, the persona in the poem "Paghahanda" furthers the agenda of the sisterhood. But the persona is doing this because it is a role. According to Cixous, the stage is the one place or venue that is able to surface the other. In this poem, the persona is conscious of authenticity or performance for the critic - and the critic maybe read as a metaphor for the other. 


Paghahanda

Esther 2:5-8


Hinihintay nila ang bagong reyna ng palasyo

Hatid ng mga tambol, trumpeta, pagsugod ng tao

Lulan ng karong hila ng kamelyo. Napakaingay

Nilalango ng inumin ang mga katinuang naiinip.


Samakatuwid, bilisan ninyo ang pagpapaligo

Pagpapabango, pagpapasamyo ng buhok

Pagpipinta ng labing mayamaya'y bubukas, sasara

Magsasabi ng maligayang pagdating mabuhay


Ipagmamayabang ni Artaxerxes ang karangyaan

Paligsahan ng mga liryo sa parang, pag-imbay

Parada ng hikaw, pulseras, kuwintas, pinanday na rosas.

Makinang na garbong daig pa ang bigay ng Maylikha.


Sisilipin sa matang mapaglaro ang tanging pinto

Papasukin ang kulambong kubol, burka, belo, tato,

ikot ng alampay, hubog ng palasyo. Aangkinin

Ang labing bubukas sasara halika


Paunahin si Dina, kasunod si Sara, Rebeca

Ang anak ni Jepthah na bagong dalaga

Si Mizpah, Bathsheba, Rahab, si Maria

Ang ina ng Tao, yaong magdalena



(At bago magtanghal ay paiindakin si Michal

Asawa ni David na ayaw sumayaw.)

Abigail, tumahimik ka, itabi ang dunong

At ikaw Peninah, huwag bumulong-bulong.


Kailangan ngayon ang pagsasabwatan

Makikipagtipan, mag-aastang bituin ng trahedya

Asamin ang paghawi ng telon, akuin ang palabas

Humanda sa kritiko. Galingan ninyo!


My Comment on This Poem

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The are four other poems in the Tagalog poetics series exploring a woman character from the Bible. Your can comment on the poems in Tagalog or English. All constructive comments will be considered in the presentation of poems on this website

Readings:

Bach, Alice ed. "Man's World, Women's Place Sexual Politics in the Hebrew Bible." Women in the Hebrew Bible. Routledge, New York: 1999.

Bird, Phyllis. "The Place of Women in the Israelite Cultus." Women in the Hebrew Bible. Routledge, New York: 1999.

Blyth Ian, Sellers Susan. Helene Cixous Live Theory. New York: 2004.

Conley, Verena Andermatt. (Modern Cultural Theories) Helene Cixous. Hertfordshire: 1992.

Eilberg-Shwartz, Howard. "The Problem of the Body for the People of the Book." Women in the Hebrew Bible. Routledge, New York: 1999.

Fewell, Danna Nolan and Gunn, David M. "A Son is Born to Naomi!: Literary Allusions and Interpretations in the Book of Ruth." Women in the Hebrew Bible. Routledge, New York: 1999.

Fuchs, Esther. "Status and Role of Female Heroines in the Biblical Narrative." Women in the Hebrew Bible. Routledge, New York: 1999.

Gay, Peter. "The Interpretation of Dreams." The Freud Reader. Norton and Company Inc. U.S.A.: 1989.

Greenstein, Edward L. "Reading Strategies and the Story of Ruth." Women in the Hebrew Bible. Routledge, New York: 1999.

Jones, Ernest. The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud. Basic Books Publishing Co., Inc. U.S.A.: 1963.

Zacarias, Ravi ed. Orr-Ewing's "Postmodern Challenges to the Bible." Beyond Opinion, Living the Faith We Defend. Nashville Tennessee: 2007.

Guillemette, Lucie and Cosette, Josiane. Deconstruction and Difference.             Web: http://www.signosemio.com/derrida/deconstruction-and-differeance.asp