20 April 2010

Poetry and climate change

Since the buzz phrase nowadays is “climate change,” here is part of Albert B. Casuga's poem “Umberto and Edo de Brazil” that uses more than one language to warn us that flooding threatens everyone, not just those that speak any one language:

Was it the surprise of a wayward downpour
stopped her from her frolic in the sea?
Or was it the intruding pall ruined her mark
of the sun, gone from the sky, gone from the sea?
Lluvia! Lluvia! She warned anyone who cared
to listen --- the beach frolic rolled unabated.

Notice that had the poet used the English "Rain! Rain!" instead of the Spanish "Lluvia! Lluvia!" the jolt intended by both the woman and the poet would have been lost.  Additionally, the rhythm would have suffered, because the monosyllabic "Rain" would have shortened the line.  Cleverly, the poet justifies the use of non-English words in an English poem by the characters in the narrative.  Such justification works better with readers used to monolingual poetry, but is not necessary for readers more attuned to multilingual writing.

The theme of the poem, of course, is enhanced by the use of more than one language.  The poem dramatically presents the peculiarity of today's weather conditions, brought about by climate change (something the whole world experiences and caused).

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