Order for Masks

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  • Topic: Face, Poetry, Faces
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Philippine Literature
POST – WAR PERIOD (1945-1960)

In the year 1941-1945, Philippine Literature was interrupted in its development when the Philippines were again conquered by another foreign country, Japan. Philippine literature in English came to halt. .

After the war, it took some time before the writers could find their bearings. -Writing in English was consigned to limbo.
the reason was that almost writings in English were stopped or strictly prohibited by the Japanese. * In other words, Filipino literature was given a break during this period. * This had an advantages effect on Filipino Literature, w/c experienced renewed attention because writers in English turned to writing in Filipino. * After the war, however with a fervor and drive for excellence that continues to this day. Until 50th years – literary output still carried the stock theme of war and its hardship. Bitterness was a common tone. Later a new group of writers sprung up.

*writing of this new group was characterized by liberalism in thought and outlook. They were influenced by new literary theories by a new of symbolism, by existentialism by the post-war European, new communication modes, by ideology and practice of communism. Filipino had by this time, learned to express themselves more confidently but post-war problems beyond language and print like economic stability, the threat of new ideas and morality had to be grappled with side by side.

Order for Masks
Virginia R. Moreno

To this harlequinade
I wear a black tights and a fool’s cap
Billiken, make me three bright masks
For the three tasks in my life.
Three faces to wear
One after the other
For the three men in my life.
When my Brother comes
Make me one opposite
If he is a devil, a saint
With a staff to his fork
And his horns a crown.
I hope my contrast
To make nil
Our old resemblance to each other
And my twin will walk me out
Without a frown
Pretending I am another.
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
The chaste face he made,
And my blind Lear will walk me out
Without a word
Fearing to peer behind.
If my lover comes
Yes, when my Seducer comes
Make 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
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.
Make me three masks.
About the Author:

Virginia Moreno is a feminist. She is recognized not only as a poet but as a Philippine woman artist whose vision of art includes both aesthetics and politics. She is a poet whose works are deeply imbricated in her country’s socio-political and cultural milieu. Moreno has, however, managed to marry form, content and create texts whose polyvalence of idioms allow readers to contend with their very own historicity. She is a poet who has an interest in French Impressionism and Symbolist poetry while the rest of her generation, having been immersed in English and American Literature The poem, "Order for Masks", is clearly talking about the different roles that the woman, who is the persona in the poem, has to portray throughout her life. It presents the woman's three masks which represent the three tasks in her life and the three faces she has to wear for the three men in her life. The first role that is illustrated is that of a sister – the woman towards her brother. As a sister, she tries to differentiate herself from her brother that is why she does things that are completely opposite or in contrast with the things her brother does. She wants to be unlike him in every possible way so to make him feel secure in his masculinity and to make him believe...
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