Friday, September 21, 2007

Come, old friend

I love poetry. Reading poems by Shakespeare (his sonnets), Pablo Neruda, Rabindranath Tagore, e.e. cummings, Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Ben Jonson, etc., etc., can cause mental orgasmic throes in me.

In our house's basement, I came across a book I thought I'd lost. It was a gift from someone when I celebrated my 18th (hah!) birthday in 1995. He and I weren't particularly close, but he knew I loved reading fiction and poetry, so he gave me this book: Songs of Ourselves: Writings by Filipino Women in English, edited by Edna Zapanta Manlapaz. (Please take note that the correct term is Filipino [or Filipina] -- never Philippino!)

Coming across this book unexpectedly today was like saying a tearfully happy hello to a long-lost friend. Like I said, I love poetry. So I flipped the pages to read again the poem I loved most in this book. It's called "Invitation," and it was written by Lydia Arguilla-Salas, a former president of the Association of Women Writers of the Philippines. She studied at Columbia University in the U.S. and worked with the guerrillas in the Philippines against the Japanese during WWII.

This poem of hers enthralls me still.

(Lydia Arguilla-Salas, 1957)

It has taken so long to forget you.
It has taken too long. I kept in a box
Your letters, telegrams, cards--
Skulls and bones of dead love
in the tomb of remembering.

Come now to a ceremony. The tomb shall be
emptied, I shall burn in your presence
the letters, the cards, the box even,
for the mourning is ended, and the vigil also.

I have become never-yours finally.

Rejoice with me. I have received and given
Love again. His eyes have pierced my soul.
His kisses have entered my mouth and taken away
The bitter taste of you.

My pulses have leaped to meet the wild beating
of his heart. My body has opened (as never
to you) full, ripe and warm to receive him

I am full to overflowing with the honey of his
I am full to spilling over with loving-kindness
toward all. Including even you.

Come therefore. Quickly. Come without waste.
We can be friends at last.


Lizza said...

I didn't turn 18 in 1995, I was kidding! I turned 18 in 1989.

But I still love the poem.

eastcoastdweller said...

Kumusta po kayo, Lizza!

That sounds like a delicious book -- and to find it again after so long, only adds to the sweetness.

My Sister-in-law recently took a business trip to the Philippines and I begged Her to bring me back a good Filipino book. She chose "Origins and Rise of the Filipino Novel," by Resil Mojares.

A little drier than Your treasure. Oh well.

ian said...

Hmm. That poem makes me incredibly sad. Maybe for the narrator it's the redemption of a friendship but if could just as easily be a broken heart for the recipient of that invitation.


Turnbaby said...

I love the poem--and one of the reasons I keep all these books---these old friends of mine--is to sit with them--the memories they evoke and the promises they may hold.

And Ian--ever turning a new light on things--you make a good point sugar--one I had not considered.

Smooches to you both.

Sidney said...

"Reading poems can cause mental orgasmic throes in me."

For sure it is less complicated and tiring as real sex. ;-)

Nice poem. Something most people can relate too.

I love poetry when it is not too hermetic. If not give me the real sex orgasm.

Mimi Lenox said...

I cried when I read this.


kyels said...

Beautiful poem ... Damn.


You ought to post more in your blog; the poems I mean.

Travis said...

The wonderful thing about poetry is that it can mean something different to every eye.

This poem felt like a celebration of the joy in finding new love. But it also seems like a caution in that the narrator seems to feel safer being friends with an old love now that the new love is captured.


Daddy Papersurfer said...

'I have become never-yours finally.'

I'm going to give the TG a kiss now.

[She'll ask questions though]

Debo Blue said...

This is awesome!

Ian, you're right, it could be sad.

For the most part though, it's soooo liberating to me!

Bond said...

This one touched home for me...

The lost love is sad to the narrator, and needing to be vanquished, but that only opens the door to the renewal of a special friendship...

Photo Cache said...

waxing poetry on a friday, priceless. happy weekend btw.

Lizza said...

EDC: Oh, excellent! Mabuti naman ako, salamat.

Ohh, I haven't read that book. It may be a bit academic, but I hope it's a good read.

Ian: I didn't think to look at it that way either. My impression was the narrator was dumped, hence her "mourning." Good thinking, Ian!

Turnbaby: Yes, and sometimes we learn something new when we revisit those old friends.

Sidney: Well, sure. The real one is great too! :-D

Mimi: Glad to share it, Mims. And glad it touched you too.

Kyels: Damn right it is. Yes, I'll post some more of these gems in the future.

Travis: Good point. Kind of disheartening to think the narrator was only able to move on after someone new came along to replace the old flame though.

DaddyP: Awww, that's so sweet. I'm sure you brightened up her day, never mind the questions.

Debo: Sadness, friendship, liberation, redemption. So great to see all these different takes!

Bond: And renewal too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Vinnie. Glad the poem moved you too.

Photo: Thanks! Happy weekend to you too.

H said...

THis poem is just so [I've lost the words to describe it].

I wish I had written it. FOr the man I loved with all of myself, who spent more time hating and being jealous of my ex than loving me.

I wish I could tell him what an idiot he had been. I tried. But i could never explain adequately. As adequately, completely, succinctly and beautifully this poem says it.

But I guess it matters no more, because now he too is an ex. One who will never hasten to be my friend because he lives in fear of his emotions.


Glamourpuss said...

What a wonderful poem.

Thank you for sharing it with us.

You should read some Carol Ann Duffy - I think you'd like her.


Lizza said...

H: Fool he is, indeed. Men can be so dense. Thank you for sharing that tidbit, dear soul sis. Someday maybe he'll realize just how much of a fool he was to have treated you that way.

Puss: Thank you for your recommendation. I like your taste, so I'm betting I'd like Carol Ann Duffy's poetry too. I'll look for her work in the bookstores here.

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

I have a really hard time getting into poetry. I read just about everything under the sun, but for me, poetry doesn't do much.

I do like Shakespeares Sonnets though, I always preferred reading those to one of his plays. :)

Lizza said...

Well, no matter. Different forms of the written word affects us in different ways. Makes for interesting lessons and conversations. :-)

Guy said...

I'm interested in learning more about your mental orgasmic throes.

Lizza said...

All in good time. :-) Thank you for dropping by.