V. Moreno’s Order for Masks

Hi everyone, I would just like to share to you what I’ve written for this day. It was about a poetry interpretation and a bit of reflecting on how I can apply the lessons in my life. I hope that you can relate with  what I’ve done perhaps I’m not sure if you find my writing style relish-able. However, I believe that the poem I’m going to discuss is universal; and as time passes by, I am also looking forward into becoming a better writer who knows how to express herself clearly and not just to impress anybody. Have a great day!

ORDER FOR MASKS

Virginia Moreno

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Photo © Copyright 2010 Boo La La Costumes

            Philippine poetry’s high priestess, Virginia Moreno, is a versatile personality in the industry of arts. She is a well-known poet who has published books locally and internationally, containing her literary works. She deserves a great recognition for her noble masterpieces. She has this style in writing that absolutely accentuates her advocacies as a feminist. Also, her active involvement in resolving social, political and cultural issues give rise to more passionate and ingenious attacks. Her readers would be kept stunned by her creations at first glance yet they would have found a way to relate contextual imageries in order to understand the messages behind each line that is presented to strike or even influence them.

Order for Masks is a sophisticated poem indulged with a variety of peculiarities and symbolisms. It is written in free verse which has made it a bit laid-back physically, but is supplemented with overflowing ideas once it is understood fully.

To this harlequinade, I wear black tight and fool’s cap. Harlequinade is a part of a theatrical show wherein there is a portion when the comical harlequin and the clown perform pantomime or buffoonery to entertain the viewers. A harlequin’s character wears mask and is always mute. In the poem, the speaker associates herself being in this type of disposition. Instead of wearing a tight that is colorful or designed with diamonds, she described her suit as black in color. She wears a cap that is for the fool. It seems like she does not feel very happy to be this kind of character because she puts up indicators that are cheerless. She only lives to bring solace to other people but can’t do it for her own good. Billiken*, make me three bright masks, For the three tasks in my life. A billiken is a doll or a mascot that looks like an elephant. To some countries, it is believed that this ‘billiken’ brings luck to people by putting one’s worries away. It is being looked at as a charming mystique and it might be the reason why the speaker asks three bright masks from Billiken. Three faces to wear, One after the other, For the three men in my life. The speaker points out her need for masks. She has to wear each mask whenever she reaches out each of the three different persons in her life. So, the first stanza of the poem is intended to disclose the purpose of why the speaker has to ask for masks. It is not totally detailed perhaps it gives a hint of the situations that may follow.

When my Brother comes, make me one opposite, If he is a devil, a saint, With a staff to his fork, And for his horns, a crown. In the second stanza, it is being construed that the speaker has a brother and she is a sister. There is a growing comparison between these two people. It is the intention of the speaker to actually be the contrary of what her brother used to be. She has to be diverged from his personality. I hope for my contrast, To make nil, Our old resemblance to each other, and my twin will walk me out. Here goes the ratification of gender roles in the society. Being a sister means that she has to be different from him in order for her brother to feel masculine. By doing so, she makes nil. It means zero or does not exist. Just like the usual times of playing this kind of character, she will be left by her brother as she fulfilled her role. Without a frown, Pretending I am another. Still, the speaker stays to be as approving as she can be. Her identity is concealed but she doesn’t allow herself to be sad about it. She wears mask to hide what’s inside anyway.

When my Father comes, Make me one so like, His child once eating his white bread in trance, Philomela* before she was raped. I hope by likeness, To make him believe this is the same kind. By the third stanza the speaker portrays another persona. This time, there is a presence of a father and she is the daughter. There is an illustration of a young innocent girl who is sweet and obedient. Trance has something to do within controlling one’s consciousness that a person won’t be completely sensible. It is a state of mind wherein a technique is used to get enthralled by illusions. She relates herself with Philomela the Princess of Athens, who according to Greek mythology is a character who has been raped by the husband of her sister. After the incident, the oppression hasn’t stopped yet. The speaker then is trying to describe that kind of person she wants to show to her father- Philomela before the abuse which portrays a character that is pure, upright, graceful, and well-mannered. She is trying to be impressive by being the daughter she thinks her father would like to have. The chaste face he made, And my blind Lear* will walk me out, Without a word, Fearing to peer behind. Chaste means virginity. She needs to confirm that things stay the same back when she is still young and her father will adore her. The speaker denotes the blindness of her father because it seems to her that he does not appreciate anything that she does for him. Lear is the name of a king from William Shakespeare’s tragedy where the tone of its play is miserable and dark. King Lear as a father is a descendant of foolishness whose actions have brought consequences to his subordinate just by granting things that is in favor of his daughters- she’s trying to convince herself that she has this kind of father whose bias is her. Next is when it’s time that such scene with her father is done. Although the situation isn’t easy for her, she does not complain. She doesn’t want to lose his father. She does not want to let things happen when her father just treats him equally like any other person who does not exert as much effort to get noticed by him.

If my lover comes, Yes, when Seducer comes, Make for me the face, That will in color race, The carnival stars, And change in shape, Under his grasping hands. Make it bloody, When he needs it white, Make it wicked in the dark, Let him find no old mark, Make it stone to his suave touch. On the last stanza, the speaker is a woman who is in a relationship. Once she got into this type of situation, she gets herself committed in it. She asks for a mask that will satisfy his partner so they will have a warm relationship and truly love one another. She has to fill the gaps of his needs and wants to maintain harmony. She has to prove that she is the woman that her lover will surely love her to be. She has to prove that nobody else can make him happy as much as she can to his partner. This magician will walk me out, Newly loved. Not knowing why my tantalizing face, Is strangely like the mangled parts of a face, He once wiped out. Then the scenario of the speaker and her lover ends. She calls her a magician because she sees amusement with the kind of love that she has for her partner. This type of relationship comes as magic which makes her allured and fascinated. For her, it feels like a renewal of the love they had. She is willing to forgive her partner even if he had sinned. Most of the time, he can always find his way back to her due to an unconditional love that this woman can offer. She can endure whatever pain it is that caused her, for the sake of commitment with her family.

Make me three masks. In this poem, the speaker has performed three roles being a sister, a daughter, and a wife. It is evidently written by a feminist whose purpose is to rouse the cognizance about women. It raises both the negative and positive contextualization that is being implied to the female population of our society.

Looking at the negative connotation that is demonstrated about the woman speaking in the poem, humiliation among women is probably one of the messages that the poem aims to send to its readers. The woman always has to adapt to what each condition requires. She has to extensively fulfill the different roles that are expected from her, by the male population. She serves as an object to please the men and grant them their necessities and desires. She is sometimes an epitome of sacrifice so that sustainability between both genders is acquired. On a different perspective, there is a light that gives positivity to what the poem entails. Women have boundless skills to make themselves in service not just of men but by the entire population. They are able to gain the admiration, especially of the men in their lives, because of their flexibility and ambidexterity. They are absolutely intense when it comes to caring, supporting, and loving.

Moreno’s poetry applies to real life situations of not just the female or the male, but the lives of all people. It offers a wide array of exploration through different points of view and opens new doors for equality and unity.

The message of the poem approaches me in a realistic manner. It is true that women might be regarded as instruments back from the ancient times until this day; but it can never remain as it is. Modernism mixes through the air that the present generation inhales and it is no doubt that as our way of living accelerates, our way of thinking progresses. Nowadays, it is not just the male groups who can lead political institutions. It’s not just the male groups who can drive buses, work in construction sites, share ideas about religious views, prepare strategically on operations, and a lot more jobs and treatments that women can also do. The power lies equally in our hands. We just have to discover the fields we belong to.

As for a student like me, I truly value education relative to this issue. I believe that education is a stepping stone to advance the level of understanding among people that can lead to the attainment of global peace. Every day, students are not just taught with academics but are trained with moral ground. We meet different faces that we have to deal with, in different places and different times. We have to adapt to the environment in order to survive. We have to be open-minded in case of unfamiliarity. We have to be tough and maintain what they call ‘grace under pressure’ perhaps hypocrisy is not an option. Through these, we are honed to be better versions of ourselves starting today. Embrace sudden changes in a good way.

We live in a world where flexibility is inevitable that it’s soon enough to consider that ordering for masks has been developed as a natural process for us.

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One thought on “V. Moreno’s Order for Masks

  1. She calls *him a magician…
    (sorry guys for errors)

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