Friday, December 28, 2007

Discovering Love and The Filipino: Bonsai by Edith L. Tiempo

I post here Edith Tiempo's poem immediately followed by Linda Sue Grime's reading of it. Like I said, some selections that should have been taken up in our last few meetings should just be taken up in brief. Instead of scheduling a make up class due to the class disruptions brought about by extra curricular activities such as the HRM event (SCOR-4H5?), Outreach activities(1POL), parties, etc, it would now be our responsibility to catch up (especially those clases affected.) I post the texts, my researches, old lectures and readings. You read, assimilate and understand and prepare for the major quiz and major exam :)


All that I love
I fold over once
And once again
And keep in a box
Or a slit in a hollow post
Or in my shoe.

All that I love?
Why, yes, but for the moment-
And for all time, both.
Something that folds and keeps easy,
Son's note or Dad's one gaudy tie,
A roto picture of a queen,
A blue Indian shawl, even
A money bill.

It's utter sublimation,
A feat, this heart's control
Moment to moment
To scale all love down
To a cupped hand's size

Till seashells are broken pieces
From God's own bright teeth,
And life and love are real
Things you can run and
Breathless hand over
To the merest child.

Edith L. Tiempo's poem, "Bonsai," consists of four verse paragraphs; the lines are short and unrimed. The poem dramatizes the speaker's method of controlling emotions.

First Verse Paragraph: “All that I love”
In the first verse paragraph, the speaker claims enigmatically that she folds up everything she loves and places it “in a box / Or a slit in a hollow post / Or in my shoe.” At first, the speaker’s claims seem a little silly; placing a little note that you love all folded up into a “hollow post” does not resonate, especially when in the next line she claims she might also place the item in her shoe.

Second Verse Paragraph: “All that I love?”
Interestingly, the speaker anticipates being questioned about her statement, “All that I love.” So she makes a little pretense at answering the question, resulting in a flip-flop; she says she keeps those little items that she loves in these unusual places only “for the moment.” No, not only for the moment, but “for all time.” No, not just for all time but “for the moment” and “for all time.”

Then the speaker lists a few things that represent “Something that folds and keeps easy”: “Son's note or Dad's one gaudy tie, / A roto picture of a queen, / A blue Indian shawl, even / A money bill.” These are some of the things that speaker claims she folds up and keep in a box, a hollow post, or her shoe. At this point, the reader is intrigued by such a claim. Why the emphasis on shrinking things? Why the necessity of folding a hording in small places?

Third Verse Paragraph: “It's utter sublimation”
In the third verse paragraph, the reader learns that the speaker likes to fold things up because she wants “To scale all love down / To a cupped hand's size.” She called her “folding” up of things she loves an act of “sublimation.” She has the need to purify and control her own emotions.

It is with this verse paragraph that the title, “Bonsai,” becomes clear: the speaker needs to contain her emotions in a way similar to the horticulturist who contains the tree that becomes a dwarf of itself.

Fourth Verse Paragraph: “Till seashells are broken pieces”
Those things that fold—notes, ties, shawls, money—merely represent valuable things that in turn represent the speaker’s emotions. Emotions can be wild and uncontrollable and lead one grossly astray, but if one can sublimate them, shrink them down, and control them as the gardener does the “Bonsai,” then the speaker can control her own life, and her life and love “[will become] real / Things [she] can run and / Breathless hand over /To the merest child.”

The speaker wants to be able to explain her life and love even to a very young child; thus, she folds up her life in poems and keeps them orderly, ready to “hand over.”

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