Pedagogic by Cirilo F. Bautista (Poem) - Analysis and Meaning

I walked towards the falling woods
to teach the trees all that I could
of time and birth, the language of men,
the virtues of hate and loving.
They stood with their fingers flaming,
Listened to me with a serious mien:
I knew the footnotes, all the text,
my words were precise and correct-
I was sure that they were learning-
till one tree spoke, speaking in dolor,
to ask why I never changed color.

Analysis and Meaning

Merriam-Webster defines the word pedagogic as "of, relating to, or befitting a teacher or education". You can replace the title of the poem with this exact definition and it will make complete sense. The speaker in the poem is a teacher, an educator tasked with imparting knowledge to the less knowledgeable and the less experienced. The speaker is passionate about teaching. That's why he's always walking towards the "falling woods". The "falling woods" here is a metaphor. The "woods" can be a country, a population, or a citizenry. The trees in the poem is a metaphor for the people. By "falling", the speaker means that the people are intellectually dying. The people are either not getting the education they need/deserve or their their mental capabilities are waning.

So the speaker walks towards them. To teach them. To impart knowledge upon them. "Time and birth" can be a metaphor for history and fields of study like anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, etc. "The language of men" can be a metaphor for literature and linguistics. "The virtues of hate and loving" can be a metaphor for philosophy and logic.

"Fingers flaming" means that the trees are starting to burn and it's just a matter of time before they start falling down. People are becoming more and more ignorant and it's the teacher's duty to help ensure that this doesn't happen. So the teacher teaches them everything - text and footnotes, and all. Precise and capable, the teacher thinks his lessons are getting through to his students. But he soon realizes that he was wrong. Instead of learning from him, his students are questioning him instead.

The phrase "speaking in dolor" plays a very important role in this poem. "Dolor" is a state of great sorrow and distress. The students are distressed about being taught. So what do they do? They rebel against their teacher. With that said, this poem can be interpreted as not just about the dying of education and the rise of ignorance, but also about close-mindedness or anti-intellectualism. Some people prefer being ignorant as opposed to having their eyes and ears opened.