Isang Dipang Langit
Amado V. Hernandez
Ako'y ipiniit ng linsil na puno
hangad palibhasang diwa ko'y piitin,
katawang marupok, aniya'y pagsuko,
damdami'y supil na't mithiin ay supil.
Ikinulong ako sa kutang malupit:
bato, bakal, punlo, balasik ng bantay;
lubos na tiwalag sa buong daigdig
at inaring kahit buhay man ay patay.
Sa munting dungawan, tanging abot-malas
ay sandipang langit na puno ng luha,
maramot na birang ng pusong may sugat,
watawat ng aking pagkapariwara.
Sintalim ng kidlat ang mata ng tanod,
sa pintong may susi't walang makalapit;
sigaw ng bilanggo sa katabing moog,
anaki'y atungal ng hayop sa yungib.
Ang maghapo'y tila isang tanikala
na kala-kaladkad ng paang madugo
ang buong magdamag ay kulambong luksa
ng kabaong waring lungga ng bilanggo.
Kung minsa'y magdaan ang payak na yabag,
kawil ng kadena ang kumakalanding;
sa maputlang araw saglit ibibilad,
sanlibong aninong iniluwa ng dilim.
Kung minsan, ang gabi'y biglang magulantang
sa hudyat - may takas! - at asod ng punlo;
kung minsa'y tumangis ang lumang batingaw,
sa bitayang moog, may naghihingalo.
At ito ang tanging daigdig ko ngayon -
bilangguang mandi'y libingan ng buhay;
sampu, dalawampu, at lahat ng taon
ng buong buhay ko'y dito mapipigtal.
Nguni't yaring diwa'y walang takot-hirap
at batis pa rin itong aking puso:
piita'y bahagi ng pakikilamas,
mapiit ay tanda ng di pagsuko.
Ang tao't Bathala ay di natutulog
at di habang araw ang api ay api,
tanang paniniil ay may pagtutuos,
habang may Bastilya'y may bayang gaganti.
At bukas, diyan din, aking matatanaw
sa sandipang langit na wala nang luha,
sisikat ang gintong araw ng tagumpay...
layang sasalubong ako sa paglaya!
Bartolina ng Muntinlupa
This is such a beautiful poem by Amado Hernandez. Strange that very little effort has been made to translate it in English and Spanish, so many more people can appreciate Hernandez's genius. This was the best I could find in the web and it's a rather rough translation. Subersibo pa ba siya hanggang ngayon)? I think his politics, communism! sucks, though. He should have stuck to being a poet and a writer.
An Arm's Length Piece of the Sky
I am held by an evil leader
seeking to cage my thoughts,
a body weak, he says, is surrender,
emotions suppressed, advocacy hindered.
I am kept in a cruel place:
rock, steel, bullets, ferocious guards;
isolated from the world
alive, treated as dead.
From the little window, my sole consolation
is an arm's length piece of the sky, full of tears,
a paltry handkerchip to dress a wounded heart,
flag of my misfortune.
Sharp as lightning are the guards' eyes,
at the gates, with keys, no one can go near;
the scream from a nearby cell
resembles a cave animal's howl.
Days pass like a chain
dragged along by bloody feet,
the nights are a blanket of sorrow
in the coffin-like realm of the jail.
Sometimes, quiet footsteps pass,
with a line ofrattling, clinking chains;
to the pale sun momentarily exposed,
a thousand shadows escape.
Sometimes, the night is awakened
by an alarm - an escapee! - gunfire!
sometimes the old bell cries,
at the execution den, someone lies dying.
And this is my only world now-
the prison house, a graveyard of the living;
ten, twenty, and all of my years
my whole life will be here.
But a resolute mind knows not fear nor agony
and hope still springs in my heart:
imprisonment is part of the struggle,
jail, the fate of the embattled.
Man and God do not sleep
the unfortunate won't stay oppressed,
tyranny has a price to pay,
while a Bastille exists, people will resist.
And tomorrow, in this very place, I will see
an arm's length piece of the sky with no more tears,
the golden sun of victory will shine...
free, freedom I'll embrace!
April 22, 1952
Hernandez was a journalist and labor organizer who led the biggest labor strike to hit Manila in 1947 and another massive one in 1948.
The Philippine military started a crackdown against the communist movement in 1950. Hernandez was arrested on the suspicion that he was one of the leaders. He was imprisoned for 5 years.
It was in jail that he would write his most notable works, Isang Dipang Langit (An Arm's Length Piece of the Sky), and the novels Luha ng Buwaya (Tears of the Crocodile) and portions of Ibong Mandaragit (Bird of Prey).