Revolt From Hymen
O to be free at last, to sleep at last
As infants sleep within the womb of rest!
To stir and stirring find no blackness vast
With passion weighted down upon the breast,
To turn the face this way and that and feel
No kisses festering on it like sores,
To be alone at last, broken the seal
That marks the flesh no better than a whore’s!
by Angela Manalang Gloria
It was a sacrilege, the neighbors cried,
The way she shattered every mullioned pane
To let a firebrand in. They tried in vain
To understand how one so carved from pride
And glassed in dream could have so flung aside
Her graven days, or why she dared profane
The bread and wine of life for some insane
Moment with him. The scandal never died.
But no one guessed that loveliness would claim
Her soul’s cathedral burned by his desires
Or that he left her aureoled in flame…
And seeing nothing but her blackened spires,
The town condemned this girl who loved too well
and found her heaven in the depths of hell.
I rather like it when women poets run circles around their male peers. Feminist poetry precedes the term feminism. It doesn’t mean that Manalang-Gloria was any less controversial in her day for shedding light on uncomfortable truths of unmerited male power. No poet has voiced the anger of martial rape so purposefully as Manalang-Gloria.
It does not appear that either of these poem were based on her own experience, but are rather the voice of women of her generation. She wrote lovingly about her own husband, who was killed by Japanese soldiers, leaving her to raise their three children alone. It’s no surprise she was a successful businesswoman, but her poetry found little acceptance in the male dominated publishing world.
Contrast Manalang-Gloria unvarnished poetry on the subject of sex with Maramag? Maramag was the more commercially successful Phillipino poet but Manalang-Gloria’s words stand the test of time in my opinion with a fresher voice of honesty. Which poem do you think will still being read in 100 years? In 200 years? Let’s hope both but I would put my money on Manalang-Gloria.
The Rural Maid
By Fernando M. Maramag
Thy glance, sweet maid, when first we met,
Had left a heart that aches for thee,
I feel the pain of fond regret—
Thy heart, perchance, is not for me.
We parted: though we met no more,
My dreams are dreams of thee, fair maid;
I think of thee, my thoughts implore
The hours my lips on thine are laid.
Forgive these words that love impart,
And pleading, bare the poet’s breast;
And if a rose with thorns thou art,
Yet on my breast that rose may rest.
I know not what to name thy charms,
Thou art half human, half divine;
And if I could hold thee in my arms,
I know both heaven and earth were mine