Berso sa Metro

I’ve written about this before somewhere else, but in addition to the roominess (and general non-smelliness) of its trains, the order of its stations and its stored-value tickets, I love Line 2 of the Light Rail Transit because of Berso Sa Metro.

It’s apparently the fruit of some sort of deal between the Philippines and Spain for the promotion of our two countries’ colonial relationship, which is in large part influenced by the three centuries they spent taking advantage of our lands and subjugating us.

On the top of either wall, spanning the entire length of the trains, are placards on which are printed Spanish poems and their Filipino translations.

I wonder if, in a train in Barcelona or Madrid, a Spaniard looks up and sees “ako’y tutula / mahabang mahaba / ako’y uupo / tapos na po” on a placard, too.

The LRT 2 is where I had my first real brush with Pablo Neruda: “Tu Risa“. It’s so pretty (just as pretty as his most known poem “Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines”), I’m reposting it here for you to gush over:

Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

I do not know how Neruda manages to make something that’s supposed to be corny/cheesy/patweetums/yuch-inducing so, so sublime.


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