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Gabu Through Permutations of Time and Memory - Carlos Angeles' Poem

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"Gabu" Through Permutations of Time and Memory

Carlos Angeles' poem "Gabu" (Angeles 119) is a portrait of a seashore that permutes through the perceptions of time and the dimensions of memory. Like in a time-lapse photo, the effect of time adds layers of an overlapping image that both distorts and enriches the canvas of Gabu. Underlying this inchoate image is a tension that seems to coalesce the ambiguities together; for what things are 'forfeited' yet 'most loved and dear' (15)? The irony of this question begins to make sense when the two main tensions of the poem are examined. The first is the conflict between the sea and the shore, these two elements greatly in conflict with each other that in a poem about the seashore, not once do these two elements unite to form the term 'seashore'. The second is a more implicit tension between the persona, seemingly invisible, and his memory of Gabu. It is tension of persona that perhaps suggests a figurative meaning for the sea and shore. This new critical essay hopes to explore these meanings and to tie these tensions to come up with a cohesive reading of "Gabu".

The dimension of time is a central element in this poem as each of the four stanzas seems to have a different time configuration which has a direct effect on the changing imagery and word selection as the 'violences become quiet' as described by Jean Edwardson in "Six Filipino Poets" (Edwardson 35). On the converse, the configuration of time seems to be directly affected by how the persona perceives his memories. Interestingly, it is this perception of memory that creates time configurations that creates the imagery that leads to the epiphany experienced by the persona at the end. To better illustrate this interplay, discussion will be comparative progressing chronologically from the first through the fourth stanzas similar to an explication.

In the first stanza, the perception of time seems brief or even metronomic. This is suggested by the descriptions of the sea as restlessness (1) and the tides as a pure consistency (3). The former creates a feeling of impatience for time while the latter implies an observation of the rhythm of the tides, its rise and fall, which is an arrangement of time which is very metronomic. The resulting imagery is a violent one as 'the sea's battering restlessness 'insists a tidal fury upon the beach' (2) and the tide's pure consistency 'havocs the wasteland hard within its reach' (4). Notice how upon the waves making contact, the meter of line 2 becomes the relaxed pentameter opposed to the uneasy tetrameter of the other lines demonstrating how the sea's restlessness is resolved only when it makes contact with the beach. Take note, too, of the alliteration between 'havoc' and 'hard' to describe the violence of the



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