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ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Friday, January 25, 2013

THE GLEANER'S SONG




THE GLEANER’S SONG

When the gleaners stretch their backs at sundown
among the terraces, they troll their ditties of work,
and throw their jute sacks on their sunburnt backs:

“Where the heavens meet the sea, O Kannoyan,*
Where the pinetrees sway with the wind dance,
We will be there, we shall gather the roots, gather

the banana leaves to wrap the broiled mudfish,
and bring them home, bring them home, to hold
the feast at eventide, to burn venison in campfire.

O, Old Kannoyan, we praise you with our songs,
we pray with our flaccid hands that in the morrow
will be strong, we bless you with our gleaner's song.”

At sunrise, they will be there again to trace roots
that lace the furrows of ancient soil, where fathers
have found their forebears’ lair laden with lore

about the worksongs of the native braves, tillers
of the softened clay, hunters of the ripened hills
where wild boars roamed with the dappled deer.

I will learn these songs, sing these songs, until
every passage, every word, shall have become
my martial beat and the quiet lullaby of my soul.
 

—Albert B. Casuga

*Kannoyan---God of Good Harvest among the Mountain people.

1 comment:

Darius Nease said...

I was just wondering, sir, if the term "flaccid" hands is the actual translation of the words in the native song or if it was your own interpretation (i.e. poetic license)?
It's just that the word "flaccid" is so apt a metaphor for something that has tired itself out and will only be good for work again after a night's rest. =)