Worth A Thousand Words

Moonlight on Manila Bay by Fernando Maramag

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Moonlight on Manila Bay By Fernando Maramag


A light serene, ethereal glory, rests
Its beams effulgent on each cresting wave;
The silver touches of the moonlight lave
The deep's bare bosom that the breeze molests;
While lingering whispers deepen as the wavy crests
Roll with weird rhythm, now gay, now gently grave;
And floods of lambent light appear the sea to pave
All cast a spell that heeds not time's behests.
Not always such the scene: The din of fight 
Has swelled the murmur of the Peaceful air;
Here east and west have oft displayed their might;
Dark battle clouds have dimmed this scene so fair;
Here bold Olympia, one historic night,
Presaging freedom, claimed a people's care.

I've observed that Fernando Maramag's sonnet, “Moon light on Manila Bay” is an imitation 
of English Romantic Diction. The language used is more like of the Early Modern English or the Mid Modern English( kinda Shakespearean type but not so). Perhaps, for readers today, it's Fernando Maramag's best(it's hard to write a brilliant poem like this. Only people with brilliant minds can do this). The evident or the “open to view” subject is exactly what its title says. The overwrought diction of the poem gives a taste or a grasp of the poem's beauty. He made it more expressive and creative through his overwrought diction: “light serene... lambent light,” “cresting wave... wavy crests.”

Maramag's intention is to tell us that he still longs for that “scene so fair,” our lost country that rises within. In the first line of Maramag's sonnet, the “light serene, ethereal glory,” tells not only about spiritual thoughts but also the beauty of our nativity (birth of our country) – Philippines as a country with a fighting spirit. The sonnet's concluding verses: East and West, gives us an idea of the sufferings or sacrifices that Philippines have gone through, such as: Islam and Christianity(War between Islam and Christianity, Spain (Spanish colonization), and finally America have waged  battles in the Philippines(here) to devour our soul(American colonization). Thus, while the sonnet  finally celebrates America's victory on Manila bay, that extreme joy is  yet destroyed by the first eight verses that shows our fighting spirit though our troubled history has only lacked its brightness(dimmed).

Perhaps, it should have been sunset over Manila bay because foreigners often enjoy its view during sunset, but the poet chose moonlight, not because it is more romantic(dramatic effect) but because, as the poem suggests, it is under cover of darkness – that foreigners stole our country from us – “The deep's bare bosom  that the breeze molests” is a metaphor for American colonization.

So in our reading now, we understand  that Maramag's insistence on our own “scene so fair” in fact becomes a chief motive and inspiration for the Filipino poet. For his own scene is nothing less than his lost country whose  physical and spiritual geography it is his task to imagine and so rediscover. There is still hope to heal all the wounds.


Updated Version:

I like this poem. The metaphors and how the poem was build. This poet is not only just a poet but also an architect. The use of the Manila Bay as a central image is really fantastic because this place is not only just a beautiful scenery. Behind the beautiful scenes in this place is a painful event.