“Rays of Song”: A Translation of Paul Gumanao’s “Mga Bidlisiw sa Awit”

(This is not the first time a translation of Kidapawanon poet Paul Gumanao’s work appeared in this blog, although this is the first poem. In this poem, published in the Davao Writers Guild’s Dagmay, Paul demonstrates in beautiful abundance the transforming image, a device that makes Ateneo de Davao poetry some of the most imaginative I know. The translation fails to capture the original Bisaya’s musical rhyme of “sayaw,” “bugnaw,” “adlaw,” “tagbaw,” and “mingaw” that stylistically echo the bird’s song, but it is difficult to miss the transforming images in translation.)

Mga Bidlisiw sa Awit
ni Paul Gumanao

Kanunay, ang adlaw ug ang sayaw
dungang motungha sa kabuntagon.
Dili nimo bation ang katugnaw.
Pananglit wa nimo namatikdi ang sayaw,
ang adlaw daw dakong langgam
sa pugaran nga mga bungtod,
gapamukaw pinaagi sa awit.
Pananglit wa nimo lingia ang adlaw,
ang sayaw daw gamayng adlaw
sa sangahong panganod, gapanaghoy
og gagmayng bidlisiw sa kainit.
Nakamatikod ko kay kaniadto,
sayo kong mobangon, magpaabot
sa imong mensahe nga maoy
motagbaw sa akong kamingaw.
Kagahapon, pagmata ko, mitungha
ang adlaw sa wa pa ang sayaw.
Ug karon, mitaghoy ang sayaw
bisag wa pa ang adlaw.

Rays of Song

Often, the sun and the swiftlet
arrive together when the morning comes.
and you do not feel the cold.
If, perchance, you miss the swiftlet
the sun is a large bird
nestled among hills,
waking dreamers with its song.
And if, perchance, you did not look to the sunrise,
the swiftlet is a little sun
on the branching clouds, singing
its little sunrays of warmth.
In those days,
during the earliest mornings I rose, waiting
for your message, to fill up
the emptiness of my longing.
Yesterday, when I woke up,
the sun had risen without the swiftlet.
And today, the swiftlet is singing
without the sun.

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