Monday, 14 September 2009

He Had Such Quiet Eyes - Review Part 1

He Had Such Quiet Eyes
Bibsy Soenharjo

He had such quiet eyes
She did not realise
They were two pools of lies
Layered with thinnest ice
To her, those quiet eyes
Were breathing desolate sighs
Imploring her to be nice
And to render him paradise

If only she'd been wise
And had listened to the advice
Never to compromise
With pleasure-seeking guys
She'd be free from "the hows and whys"

Now here's a bit of advice
Be sure that nice really means nice
Then you'll never be losing at dice
Though you may lose your heart once or twice

1968

Before I begin, thanks heaps for kind words and supports from friends and readers. Due to good response, I am now even more motivated to write another review. So, Let's not waste time and have a look on my take on the poem.

Just like the first poem, I have never heard of the poem nor the poet. You can try googling but I think there's nothing much there, so don't bother. She is an Indonesian writer and looking at it positively, I think that this is a good idea. But I really hope that MoE has asked for permission to use her poem because we don't want another conflict to arise (got my point?). Okay, enough rambling, let's start...

Dealing with the obvious first, let's look at the RHYMING SCHEME: a,a,a,a... yes, the rhyming scheme is uniformed throughout the whole poem. This is IMHO the strong point of this poem. This would be an x-factor that could attract students to this poem. Especially, in my case where nurturing the love towards the beauty of literature is quite challenging with poems with the like of Monsoon History (no offence, it's a good poem... but you got my point right?). For beginner-intermediate students who are still struggling with simple vocabularies, asking them to love such poems is almost like forcing a 0.7mm pencil lead into the 0.5 mechanical pencil :) This poem is different though. It's meaning is not entirely simple. Yet, it is verbally beautiful. The uniformed rhymes gives life to the poem. A lot of while reading activities can be crafted into interesting lesson when teaching this poem. Just by reading aloud, even without instruction, the poem would still sound interesting. And this is very important for beginner students. This poem is not unlike song lyrics, thus, I think you got my idea.

Okay, let's settle the LITERARY ELEMENTS first before we go into the Themes and Messages. Let's do it in a checklist form:

metaphore;
"two pools of lies" should be the metaphore for the eyes (rite?)

symbolism;
I'm not sure but there's something about the phrase "thinnest ice". I personally view it as a symbolism of a heartless man or a cold-blooded "hunter", who would harbor no feelings at all towards his victims.

simile;
nope.

personification;
The way I learn it, personification is giving human quality to inanimate object. However, in this case, the eyes are'nt really inanimate object, furthermore, it's also part of the human itself. So, where does this one falls into? :
-quiet eyes: the eyes are given the quality 'quiet'
-breathing desolate sighs: the eyes are portrayed here as 'breathing',

onomatopoeia; again, even in this poem, the word 'sigh' reappear. So, can anyone tell me whether ‘sigh’ can be counted as one?

assonance;
nope,

alliteration;
nope.

Okay, other elements like plot, setting and characters are not really apparent eventhough we could still debate that these elements exist in the poem. As for POV, it is written in a 3rd person POV. Finally, in term of tone and mood, I think that this poem sets a very mellow tone and it alludes the mood of regret and sadness.

Okay, I'd love to continue, but it's already 2.00 am, and I'm all alone in the office. Getting real sleepy now, so... I'll continue this ASAP ok? Thanks for reading, take care and bye!

Part 2

Okay, I know it’s been quite some time since I wrote the first part of the review. Truth is am not sure what to write really. Hahaha… let’s give it a try. Hurmmm, I think it’d be good to talk bout the message rite? The message in my opinion is very clear and apparent. Just like “If” by Kipling, this poem is similar in the sense that it’s trying to give you an advice, but the similarities stop there. The message here is actually an advice especially for young girls. “Don’t be fooled by appearance”, and “Looks can be deceiving” might be the suitable phrase here. What do you think?

Since we’re still with this poem, I’d like to share some part of the poem that I found really interesting. Take a look at this;

To her, those quiet eyes
Were breathing desolate sighs
Imploring her to be nice
And to render him paradise


In literal meaning, this is my version: She was hypnotized by the emptiness look in his eyes, because of that she feels obligated to be nice to him, exactly the effect that he intended. In being nice to him, obviously, she’ll do anything that he asked, in order to make him happy.

This poem brings out the concept of the power of the eyes and how, since ages and ages ago (this poem is written in 1968) up till today, Casanovas all around the world are still using the same old trick and women, all over the world still fall for it. Thus, I am really hoping that by teaching this poem to our students, we could teach them and prepare them to face the ugliness of the real world. However, based on my experience, it would be a lil bit difficult for them to digest and most of the time they will not see the sense in the advice until it’s too late. Regardless, let’s try our best, and make the lesson as interesting as it can be.Okay, that's all for now.

UPDATE:
"...losing at dice" may symbolise that life is a gamble?
"ice" can be a metaphor (Does this word have an "e"?) reflecting the coldness in the eyes...and "thinnest" may be an indication that one can see through it...perhaps, if one looks hard enough.
"the thinnest ice" also symbolises the danger - walking on thin ice. Once it cracks, she will drown in the pool. I think there is imagery here..."
- comment from my blog reader; suituapui

Thanks all.

15 comments:

juk said...

Salam,

Thanks for sharing your review with other teachers. Well done, bro. I hope you can link your blog to mine. I am teaching at a secondary school in Tanah Merah, Kelantan. I used to teach at SMK Majakir, Papar from 97 to 01. Salam Aidil Fitri.

zukidin.blogspot.com

Daddy Zuki

ah^kam_koko' said...

That's a great poem!
Thanks for sharing!
=)

cherrie princess said...

You are awesome Faisal!! Hey, why don't you compile all ur reviews and publish a book?? Hurry and beat the crowd aye? And if you do have anything published, please keep one copy for me yea? hmm.. while i'm at it, maybe i should place an order for another 50++ copies for my students.. hehehe...

suituapui said...

"...losing at dice" may symbolise that life is a gamble?

"ice" can be a metaphor (Does this word have an "e"?) reflecting the coldness in the eyes...and "thinnest" may be an indication that one can see through it...perhaps, if one looks hard enough.

For an onomatopoeia, there is one in the poem "Nature" - the SWISH of water...

Just a few observations - yet to study the poems in detail. Keep up the spirit!

suituapui said...

P.S.:
Oh ya..."the thinnest ice" also symbolises the danger - walking on thin ice. Once it cracks, she will drown in the pool. I think there is imagery here...

Sutji & Haryo said...

Cikgu Feisal Abdullah...
Salam :)
don't worry Bibsy has granted MoE the permission to use her poems for your form 4 literature texts.
you can read here if you want to know more about the poet ; Bibsy Soenharjo :
http://bibsybook-heartnsoul.blogspot.com/2007_06_01_archive.html
her book was published by MPH malaysia..
cheers
haryo

Anonymous said...

"The way I learn it, personification is giving human quality to inanimate object. However, in this case, the eyes are'nt really inanimate object, furthermore, it's also part of the human itself."

I beg to differ...

Inanimate means unable to move or not moving. So, 'Eyes' is unable to animate on its own. So, it IS a personification. Consider this:
"A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze"

A daffodil is a living thing but it an inanimate object...

CikguFaisal said...

Oh! Thanks so much for the clarification... I've always felt that those are personifications but cudnt justify it before... hehehe.. see! I'm learning too... and it's fun! thanks again anonymous!

Teacher Ita said...

Hi,i'm following ur blog recently.It's good if we can share our thoughts like diz rite?I'm juz a trainee teacher from USM,now doing my practical in SMK Dato Onn Butterworth.I've to teach form 4 & Form 1 so I know how it's hard to find sources on doz new Lite Comp.So here's somethin I wanna share-juz drop by my blog ok,TQ..

http://teacheritadiary.blogspot.com/

aznah said...

salam cikgu.
my friend mentioned this poem, so while i googled it up on the net i found your blog.Just to share a thought-i think quiet eyes and thinnest ice are a well paired comparison.Quiet eyes referred to the personality of the persona-where he is an intriguing,mysterious and cold person.in my opinion thinnest ice implied danger as ice when it is thin and hard, it can also be sharp.and can also caused frostbite.Ice can be seen as harmless, and yet it has damaging effect. so, both quiet eyes and thinnest ice shared the quality of unexpected damaging effect. That's why i think it is a well paired comparison.

tuahcendana said...

As literature is being used as a medium to spread other values to our students, this poem really enhance the usage of personal experience in their class. As 'puppy-dog-love' world, students may have experienced it. We should be able to trigger this though...And Cikgu, TQ for the sharing...=)

Anonymous said...

Thinnest ice refers to 'vulnerability.' One should be careful because walking on 'thin ice' can lead to catastrophic consequence(s). walking on 'Thin ice' equals to inviting death. On the surface it looks normal but who can actually measure the thickness of the ice. In US, local councils have the authority to certify whether it is safe or not to cross a frozen lake or river. back to the poem, it is a reminder to the fairer sex to be extra careful because men are capable of manipulating words to gain trust. This poem does not accuse men in a straight forward manner. It 'persuade' women to scan the eyes of men because we can tell whether a person is lying or not by looking at them straight in the eyes. A cunning poem.

Read this:
"Eyes do not just see, they communicate when the brain conducts internal dialog, recalls past events, crafts answers, or processes information. Eyes also serve as a blocking mechanism, much the same way as folded hands across the chest or turning away in disagreement. When people hear or see something they disagree with or do not fully support, their eyelids tend to close longer than a normal blink. This automatic response occurs so quickly that most extended eye closures go unnoticed. By cataloging a person's baseline eye responses during nonstressful conversation, investigators can compare the eye responses with those during critical questions" from FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin,The, July, 2001 by Joe Navarro, John R. Schafer.

It is a little bit technical but I think the excerpt can help readers to associate and cross examine my two cents because women would never carry a lie detector unit in their handbags.

make budu jah...

sWeeT LoNeRss said...

Thanks~ this really helps me in my assignments.

EkaBukanMakcikKau said...

Nice post dude n thanks a lot .
Keep it up =B

Family of Four said...

Sometimes I do wonder, with the divide between urban and rural schools and between conventional conservative and religious-minded individual students and the more liberal ones,whether Malaysian students may find this poem beyond their cultural acceptance.

This poem is truly reflective of coming-of-age girls and just like the law of the jungle,they fell prey to things such as amorous beauty, deceitful romance and false love.

As such, Bibsy advocates" nice must be nice" before you choose friends for long-term relationships.