Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Virginia Moreno's Batik Maker: My View

Filipino students are mystified, often stupefied by poems.
The easiest possible way to a poem is to know who is speaking. No, it’s not always the author who is speaking.

There is a persona or a character that the poet uses, just like a character in a short story.

Who is the speaker (persona)?
The “ I” in the poem is the speaker. As in " I cannot touch him".

What is the speaker talking about?
The batik maker is in the speaker’s dream. The batik maker is weaving or making a design on a cloth.
(This gets a little complicated). The image that the batik maker weaves is like a surreal painting. Dreamlike. I see a man, a huntsman who is pale, (why?).  He is ensnared and he cannot move (he cannot move because he’s ...dead?)

The speaker said,  I cannot touch him.  Why? 1. Because it is a dream.  2.The speaker is in denial.  3. maybe because she or he is afraid.

Lengths of the dumb and widths of the deaf are his here we can surmise that the dead cannot speak or hear anymore...dumb, deaf (get it?).

Wild orchids thumb ...  we can imagine that wild orchids are crawling on the hair of the dead huntsman, whose mouth is open and looks like screaming. But of course the speaker hears only some birds screaming sadly (elegiac) as though mourning for the dead.

And I cannot wake him...this part is heartwrenching. Imagine a woman who mourns for a lost loved one, trying to waken somebody who cannot come back anymore.

What panthom panther sleeps in the cage of his skin and immobile hands...  a panther is a strong animal, and the huntsman, being what he was, must have been strong and fearless when he was alive. But now, the feline sleeps forever.

And I cannot bury him...
This line is self explanatory...

Well, understanding the poem is just part of the process. A poem has images, and like a painting, the poet must convey his feelings through images. If the poet just said,  “The speaker is sad beyond words,”
That wouldn’t really be a poem, would it?
Someone would say, but a batik maker doesn’t weave? Which can spark a debate, which can lengthen the discussion etc.

Poems have meanings. Some poems are really puzzles. Mortals like us can only guess at the  hidden agenda of the poet. Take heart. Usually, the simplest explanation is the best.

View the complete poem here.


Ibarra said...

Oh my, it was so hard for me to understand. Thanks for posting this :D

amidemanila said...

I'm glad I could help. You can use these practical tips in unraveling other poems...