Sadness by Bienvenido Lumbera (Poem) - Analysis and Meaning

Sweet little songs I make,
Tunes so pure and full of love.
When lovers are timid and mute,
I give them voice, I make them bold.
Once I bid a word to come
And help me put together a poem.
From far and near, from wherever,
The word brought the poem warmth.
Each word I painstakingly refine,
And I wash the impoverished tongue.
I soothe and salve the cry of pain,
I banish any trace of tears.
But sadness I cannot send away—
Its little waves lap and leave,
Lap and leave the shore of the heart,
This moment a whisper, next a storm.

Analysis and Meaning

This poem is about the power that sadness can hold over someone's heart and mind. Sadness can grip you so tight that there's nothing you can do but submit to it. All you can muster is wait for it to fade away and leave you alone. It follows that the poem is also about man's utter inability to deal with sadness. The reason why we always choose to submit to sadness is that there's very little we can do to prevent its onslaught. If you're sad, you're sad. You simply ride the wave and wait.

Lumbera applies analogies and metaphors in driving his message across. Singers can compose beautiful songs that can awaken timid and mute lovers. When listening to these songs, these lovers find their voice. The songs embolden them. Poets accomplish the same thing. They write poems that hit people's hearts and minds and give them warmth and feelings sof euphoria. Beautiful songs and lovely poems can erase pain and banish tears.

But sadness is a completely different monster. There's not much that poems and songs can do to banish sadness. In the poem, Lumbera describes sadness as waves that lap and leave the heart. One second, it's a little wave. The next second it's a tsunami. And most of the time, the heart isn't prepared for it.

This is a very lovely and sentimental poem. It's no wonder that some readers find it cheesy and corny. It's a great poem to read when you are sad. When you are lonely. Or when you are at the beach. Watch the waves as you contemplate Lumbera comparing waves of sadness to waves in the seashore.

Other poems by Bienvenido Lumbera: A Eulogy of Roaches, Servant, Ka Bel