'Private Edition (Sonnet and Other Poems)' by Trinidad Tarrosa Subido
Photo taken on January 21, 2005, Friday, in my sleeping place
Ang tulog ay nakalilimot;
At ang makalimot ay
isinusumpa.”—Virgilio Almario, Peregrinasyon at Iba Pang Tula (1970, UP Press)
Admittedly I have not been [and not yet] a big fan of Philippine authors and poets, not because I didn't [or do not] like them but mainly because [save for the traditional Philippine myths and tales my father had orally transmitted to me] English Literature was what he and my mother had introduced to me as a child: Robert Browning, Lewis Carroll, Daniel Defoe, Walter Disney, Arthur Conan Doyle, O. Henry, Rudyard Kipling, Jonathan Swift, and the list went on and on. Besides, back in the early Seventies, almost only Jose Rizal and Francisco "Balagtas" Baltazar were who would come to mind when regarding Philippine Literature; especially that my parents were ordinary people.
Even in late high school, I still didn't have the chance to explore the literary chest of the Philippines—for what then began to catch my fancy were, again, foreign writers and poets: e.e. cummings, Sigmund Freud, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Danielle Steel, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, and a lot of minor writers behind the book series Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High, which were a craze in the Eighties.
I was already in College when I discovered a contemporary Filipino poet in the person of Virgilio S. Almario, whose poetry anthology entitled Peregrinasyon at Iba Pang Tula I highly regard as the potent piece of literary work that singly compelled me to finish, in 1992, my first poetry anthology, Pag-aalay ng Bulaklak sa Mga Lumipas at Lilipas (Poems in Filipino, 1988–1992). Captivated by Almario's playful style in using the Filipino language in poetry, I tried to find other similar Filipino poets but in vain; perhaps because their works were elusive, hard-to-find—especially that the Internet – the greatest reference tool humankind has ever developed – was at the time still unavailable to the masses.
So, to foreign literary treasures I continued to turn my heart...fantasy fiction, poetry, music, languages, cultures...
Then came Charlotte, who, last Christmas, had gifted me with books that included two poetry anthologies: Private Edition (Sonnets and Other Poems) and Sonnets from a Gardener (And Other Poems) by the Filipino couple poetess Trinidad Tarrosa Subido and poet Abelardo Subido, respectively. Their works have opened again my heart; they rekindled my old, familiar yearning to plow the rich literary pasturage of home; and, most importantly, they inspired me to make love again with the Muses of poetry—my poetic pen is prolific yet again, a prolificacy in poetry which I somehow lost during the years I was heavily immersed in prose and scholastic writing as a part of my professional work.
And now, as a tribute to Trinidad Tarrosa Subido (1912–1994), whose book Private Edition I finally finished reading ponderously, I am sharing the particular verses which made their marks in my mind.
Tarrosa Subido—bold, sharp, and honest, considering the "conservative" Philippine era and society in which she lived her youth and indited her mind.
I have made Speech and Song,
I have tried Silence, too,
But all interpret ill thoughts
My heart would speak to you.
My love, so near me on the grass—
Dares not to melt his mouth upon
My waiting kiss.
from "Be Fair, Belovéd":
Be fair, belovéd. Is this all you offer
For my long wait: one moment's ecstasy——
Where is the justice, lovéd one, in this:
The worried wait too long, too brief the bliss!
from "Why Fear the Gods?":
Why need you fear the wrath of Heaven, why?
The gods are understanding, so they say;
from "Poem for Tomorrow":
After you’re gone,
There shall be starlight still
Shimmering silver o’er our trysting hill;
There shall be music yet,
Flute from leaves and reeds and grasses wet;
There shall be flowers, fragrances releasing.
from "And the Wound Bleeds Anew":
My pride I know would sudden falter, for
I am not one to hide true feelings long.
from "Poem to the Other Woman":
My heart knew only hate for you at first,
Seeking your laughter pricéd at my pain,
The sating of your spirit at my thirst,
Sun of your heavens, at my heaven’s rain.
Your kiss feels fresh, but once I felt your lips
Waken on mine; I trembled at your touch,
At the least contact of your fingertips,
My pulses leaped… O, I adored you much!
from "Speak Up, Love":
Were it not folly to conceal from Heaven
That which than Heaven is more heavenly?
So call it whim, caprice, which’er you may,
I want your love as plain to all as Day.
from "Sonnets to a Gardener":
Fancying, Love, my fevered lips are fanned
By the same breeze that ‘round about you plays;
Fancying, Love, the moon above you is
My face, the dewdrop on your brow my kiss.
from “To My Native Land”:
O my beloved land, whose air I breath,
Whose bounty is my daily sustenance,
How sad to leave with nothing to bequeath,
Thy weal to serve, the glory to enhance;
How shameful, finally, to dare to rest
God to me, and prayer,
is as song to bird, and air;
Your taste is good—your writings show it;
Your words are poetry, I note.
You merely fail (or do you know it?)
To give them credit whom you quote.
from "To an Airy Fan":
Your endings match, your meters scan;
The whole hath symmetry;
A well-nigh perfect work it is,
Excepting that it lacks in this:
Finally, the poem from the anthology that, like my own Belovéd, has singly smitten my yearning heart:
They Tell Me, Love
They tell me, Love, prose is more precise
To speak the soul of an enamored maid,
And ask me why I choose to lyricize
My feelings to the very subtlest shade.
I could explain… but will they understand
How much a secret thing the Reason is?
Like why I’m pliant only in your hand,
And when I thirst, turn only to your kiss.
Thou knowest it is thus: when I create
Verses none else can dedicate to thee,
I feel I do surrender to my mate
Two loves to own: my Self and Poetry…
And when our spirits freely fuse in art,
O how the intimacy thrills my heart!
*Private Edition (Sonnets and Other Poems) is published in the Philippines in 2002 by Milestone Publications Inc.