Walk me around the poem. See! Dig! and MAKE!

Walking Around by Pablo Neruda

It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.

It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.

Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold.

I don’t want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.

I don’t want so much misery.
I don’t want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.

That’s why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the

And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.

There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.


What I really imagine was someone was walking around. At first, I was not good on identifying what really Pablo Neruda wanted to portray in his work. But there are some things that I did not understand.

*Why did Pablo Neruda have to write it on a surrealist perspective?

*Why was everything seemed to be vague?

*Why write that seems not so understandable with the common mind of the people?

However, it took time for me to realize that reason.


There’s a difference between  something common to something unique. Something common can make you see something but something unique can make you do three things, See the picture, Dig around the picture , and Make a map

*See the picture

Seeing is not just plainly seeing. Seeing is more than “what do I see”. Seeing is “How do I feel when I say this word? “, “What happens to my body language and/or mouth shape when I say the words?”, “Which words are stressed?”. Seeing is beyond what you can imagine. It lets you create your world and connect with the world of the writer

*Dig around the picture

This is the harder part. Dig around the picture is connecting the pieces. Seeing is the content based part of the written output. If that is seeing, digging is more of the seeing plus the context, form, and technique based questions. “When did the writer write the material?” “What was the inspiration behind every line and image?” “What is the reason behind the line spacing of the poem?” Digging is making a world of connections. It lets you create a sense of a “YOU and ME IN THE WORLD” in the poem

*Make a map

If you get through seeing and digging, this one will be easy. Making a map just simply means Seeing + Digging + The whole world of the author. Now this one is a problem, the way you see something in the poem might not be the way the author sees or writes it. That is why you have to study the words, structure, word-associations, and music of the poem

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The art of poetry


These are some of the professional reviews for the poem “Ars Poetica”

Signi Lenea Falk

“Ars Poetica” has been called MacLeish’s ultimate expression of the art-for-art’s-sake tenet. Taken as one statement of his theory, the poem does defy the “hair splitting analysis of modern criticism.” Written in three units of double-line stanzas and in rhyme, it makes the point that a poem is an intimation rather than a full statement, that it should “be motionless in time”; that it has no relation to generalities of truth, historical fact, or love-variations, perhaps, of truth, beauty, and goodness.

 From Archibald MacLeish. New York: Twayne, 1965. Copyright © 1965 by Twayne Publishers, Inc.


William Pratt


Archibald MacLeish, who like Cummings arrived on the poetic scene after the first imagists had created the new movement, nevertheless can be credited with the poetic summing up of imagism in his “Ars Poetica” in 1926, written well after the imagist decade had ended. It is inconceivable that such a poem could have been written without imagism, because the technique as well as the philosophy of MacLeish’s most famous poem is imagist. It consists of a sequence of images that are discrete but that at the same time express and exemplify the imagist principles and practice of poetry.


The Latin title is borrowed from Horace, who wrote a prose treatise in the first century A.D., the Silver Age of Rome, called “Art of Poetry,” advising poets among other things to be brief and to make their poems lasting. MacLeish wanted to link the classical with the modern in his poetic “treatise” as a way of implying that the standards of good poetry are timeless, that they do not change in essence though actual poems change from age to age and language to language. His succession of opening images are all about the enduring of poetry through time, as concrete as “globed fruit” or ancient coins or stone ledges, and as inspiring to see as a flight of birds or the moon rising in the sky. The statements are not only concrete but paradoxical, for it is impossible that poems should be “mute” or “Dumb” or “Silent” or “wordless,” which would mean that there was no communication in them at all; rather, what MacLeish is stating in his succession of paradoxical images is that the substance of poetry may be physical but the meaning of poetry is metaphysical: poems are not about the world of sensible objects as much as they are about invisible realities, and so the universal emotions of grief and love can be expressed in words that convey the experience in all its concreteness, yet the words reach into the visionary realm beyond experience, toward which all true images point. The final paradox, that “A poem should not mean but be,” is pure impossibility, but the poet insists it is nevertheless valid, because beyond the meaning of any poem is the being that it points to, which is ageless and permanent, a divine essence or spiritual reality behind all appearances. MacLeish’s modern “Art of Poetry” is a fulfillment of the three rules of imagism (be direct, be brief, and use free verse), of Pound’s definition of the image, and at the same time of Horace’s Latin statement on poetry, that good poetry is one proof that there is a permanence in human experience that does not change but endures through time.


from Singing the Chaos: Madness and Wisdom in Modern Poetry. Copyright © 1996 by the Curators of the University of Missouri



As for me, I really had a hard time reading the poem. Maybe it was because I was not able to read between or behind the lines or maybe I was not focus enough. But there are more things I learned and realized.


*Poetry is not just a simple thing.

Let’s admit this one. Is there anyone who would usually read poems INTENTIONALLY? Stereotyping it, maybe the people who studies literature will read them intentionally or maybe even critics of literature. But a common person (normal student who has a normal life and everything) will not read that. I personally admit that I don’t really read poems. But this poem “Ars Poetica” helped me understand them more


*There’s more to life in poems.

Again, what do we look in poems? “Oh there’s a rhyme in words” “Oh the measurement of the syllables are the same. But let’s dig deeper, “What is the context of the poem?” “What is the theme of the poem?” “Who is the persona?”. Let’s have an illustration. We all know what a Chocolate Mousse is right? It’s a kind of cake. It has three layers mainly Icing part, the coffee part, and the chocolate part. Some people just eat the Icing part without tasting the better layers. We are sometimes simply satisfied with the Icing part without digging deeper.

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It’s not exactly a hot topic on the Web (with only 134 entries on Google), but Rolando Tinio‘s poem “Valediction sa Hillcrest” (1958) has been baffling students when given as a standard text in literature classes in the Philippines. The poem is written in Taglish, the code-switching dialect of Tagalog that uses many words, phrases, and even sentences from English. (Taglish should not be confused with Philippine English, which is the object of much study by linguists). Most students find the work opaque because of (a) the situation, and (b) the language.

The situation is easy to understand if you studied outside your home country and deluded yourself during those years of study that you are a native of the foreign country. When you are forced to return home by your student visa restrictions, you don’t quite know where your home is. Once pointed out to students, this situation (which students can relate to, since many of them live away from home to go to university even in their own country) becomes easier to appreciate.

The choice of language raises questions because hardly anyone wrote or writes poetry in Taglish. Considered subliterate by most university professors, Taglish (a pidgin, technically speaking) is used mostly in popular romance novels (which, btw, sells in the millions of copies in the Philippines) but not in Literature (with the capital L).

Tinio (posthumously declared a National Artist of the Philippines), with unimpeachable credentials earned in the USA and the UK, made Taglish respectable as a literary language in this one poem. (He later moved away from pidgin and into classic literary Tagalog.)

Taglish as a language neither here nor there is a perfect objective correlative or symbol of the identity crisis of the young man in the autobiographical poem. The shifts from English to Tagalog to something not quite English nor quite Tagalog mirror the conflict inside the young man as he easily recalls the happy recent moments spent in Iowa and tries valiantly to recall the happier earlier moments spent in his native Tondo (a district in the city of Manila in the Philippines). At the end of the poem, he sheds tears unabashedly, in a striking image of water falling from his eyes into snow melting on the ground as he walks towards the bus station.

For non-Tagalog readers, here is a taste of the linguistic beauty of the poem:

There’s a flurry, ang gentle-gentle.
Pagwhoosh-whoosh ng paa ko,
The snow melts right under.

Ang is a marker, like so; pag- is a marker for the onomatopeia; ng means of; paa means feet; ko means my.

I saw this blog from someone. Then I realize some things when I was both reading the blog and the poem

1) It’s really hard when you are not in your comfort zone.

Where am I want to be with? That’s the question we need to solve. A fish cannot be on land because it will die. Same as a lion, it cannot be underwater (well if it’s a lion fish, or a sea lion). That is why there are comfort zones mainly to make you be in your comfortable state.

2) It’s hard to be an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker)

Imagine someone who is a 2 year old child and is left by his/her parents at that age. His/her parents comes back at the age of 16, would you know if that kid will know or will say “Hi mom/dad” or will that person be clinging with his/her guardian. As an OFW, you wouldn’t know if you still have a place to return or the people there still remember you. It’s  hard.

3) Memories are never ordinary

Memories are precious to every person. It’s give you something that you know about something or someone. It’s the only thing that you would want to preserve until you can.


Source: http://isaganicruz.wordpress.com/2009/03/07/rolando-tinios-valediction-sa-hillcrest/

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God’s answers in your prayers

As Christians, of course, it is our privilege and delight that we pray to God. We should consider it a blessing that we can pray freely and that we are privilege to pray as God’s people. But why do we pray? We pray because we believe that God listens to us when we pray and that He works mightily when we do pray. God gives us that grace even if we don’t deserve it. But do we believe that God responds to our prayers?

These are 3 of God’s responses to our prayers:

1) YES but you got to do it GOD’S WAY!

* Isaiah 55:8-9

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, 
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
So are My ways higher than your ways 
And My thoughts than your thoughts. (NASB)

However, often times WE say NO (Exodus 3:10-11) because the cost is too great (Numbers 13:3; 31)

We dont want to get our feet wet. (Joshua 3:13) We don’t want to take the first step.

We forget God’s faithfulness (Luke 17:12-17; Matthew 16:8-10)

2) When God says wait, (1 Samuel 10:8, 1 Samuel 13: 7-14)

John 2: 4  4 And Jesus *said to her, “Woman, [a]what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” 

Why do we have a hard time WAITING?

*We don’t know when the answer will come” and “We don’t know what and until when are we waiting for”

And how do we respond?

We become impatient (Psalm 37:7;9)     *We grumble (Psalm 46:10a)  

*We lose heart and give up (1 Corinthians 4:16)   *We take things in our own hands (Psalm 130:5-6)


3) When God says NO! (Daniel 3:16-18)

*It is always important to remember that faith and prayer are INSEPARABLE. THE STRONGER THE FAITH, THE MORE WE PRAY.

*Our relationship with God is more important. We should always remember that God isn’t a GENIE! 


*Even if God says no, we should keep on praying because GOD WORKS (ROMANS 8:28)


Just to summarize my point, God answers ACCORDING TO OUR FAITH.  If we have a faith that can move mountains, we will know how God really works in our lives. God’s will will not lead you where His grace would not keep you! ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT!  If God says WAIT or even NO, keep on praying. God is maybe testing if you will still pray if He says NO or WAIT.


“Only By His Grace, All For His Glory”

“Put your eyes on the sky and your feet on the ground”

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Pruning Experiences

This 2012, many of us just love everything about our yesteryear 2011. However, sometimes we just look at how good our year was that we forgot the bad things that happened to us. Look, I am not saying that we should dwell with our bad stuff or our kept “garbage” inside ourselves. It’s just sometimes, we want to solve the problem that we have than to open our eyes and see what can we learn and what God has been telling us all these times.

John 15: 1-2

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

God loves us so much that he cares so much about us and that’s why He is pruning us. To be a excellent vine, we should try to allow God to prune us and work in and through us. I hope and pray that each one of us shall see how much awesomeness God has in store for us.

“Only By His Grace, All For His Glory”

“Put your eyes on the sky and your feet on the ground. THIS IS HOW WE DO IT”

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