Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Philippine Literature: Poems by Nina Estrada Puyat

(Cecilia's Note: I'm cleaning up the websites I manage  and came across this page from  Since the webpage will be deleted, I decided to save these poems by Nina Estrada Puyat, noted Filipina poet whom I had the privilege of knowing.) 

From Heart of Clay, a collection of Love Sonnets
Make me the liquid by your vase contained
Make me the clay that you would shape and mould.
Make me the puppet by your wish ordained,
The shadow and reflection of your world.
Make me the memory of your smile when this
Is fled. The glimmer of your tear before
They fall. The sigh suspended from a kiss
Conceived and born in your heart's inmost core.
Let me be the music that your fingers play.
The instrument beneath your singing hands.
The echo of your voice, the midnight of your day,
The eddy following your soul's respnse.
For, Love, I would be paint beneath your brush:
Distinct and yet united, we two at last.

I shall not yield although he storms my castle.
I shall not kiss him back although I tear
My heart. I shall note let sound of his pestle
Pounding at my soul break through the mask I wear,
Betray the frigid treachery I dare.
I shall not let his seeking hands caress me.
He shall not touch this jet-black hair that is mine.
He shall not see the prayer of eyes misty
With hunger, beggared yet unpleading, nor find
The initiated breasts' pubescent line.
The moon will set, but he and I will never
Know each other. Chained to a vow once made,
In numb despair I shall deny him answer
And turn away: virtuous, pure and . . . dead.

On one another yet we shall in time
Set eyes, and I my sweet revenge shall gain,
For muffled tears that fell like prayer rain
To still the clamor of a bell that chimed
Relentlessly within my haunted mind.
For all the humiliated shame that died
Over my love so ruthlessly denied
By your unfaithful heart of stone, I'll find
A brand to sear your memory, a way
To torture you again with sighs of lips
You well remember and of breasts and hips
Whose feel you knew but lost. I only pray
The vengeance that upon your soul I lay
Will not redound and break this heart of clay.

Writer's bio: Nina Estrada Puyat was born in Tarlac, Philippines. Her collection of fifty sonnets, Heart of Clay (1959), was published by Doubleday as This Love Within. Her political works include a three-act play, The Cripple, which was censored by the Marcos regime. The poem "Elegy" was written on the night of the assassination of Benigno Aquino. This poem is said to be the most significant piece of poetry to come out of the People Power ear in the Philippines. Nina was the 1979 Poet Laureate of the Philippine Poets Association; she is the first recipient of a special diploma of Master in Literature from the Univeristy of Santo Tomas, Philippines.
(Poems, pictures, courtesy of C. Brainard)

Picture of Nina with Asian American writers, at the old Midnight Special Bookstore. That's me seated, right.

Read also
Expressing Love with "Heart of Clay" 

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