Lion Heart by Amanda Chong
You came out of the sea,
skin dappled scales of sunlight;
Riding crests, waves of fish in your fists.
Washed up, your gills snapped shut.
Water whipped the first breath of your lungs,
Your lips’ bud teased by morning mists.
You conquered the shore, its ivory coast.
Your legs still rocked with the memory of waves.
Sinews of sand ran across your back-
Rising runes of your oceanic origins.
Your heart thumped- an animal skin drum
heralding the coming of a prince.
In the jungle, amid rasping branches,
trees loosened their shadows to shroud you.
The prince beheld you then, a golden sheen.
Your eyes, two flickers; emerald blaze
You settled back on fluent haunches;
The squall of a beast. your roar, your call.
In crackling boats, seeds arrived, wind-blown,
You summoned their colours to the palm
of your hand, folded them snugly into loam,
watched saplings swaddled in green,
as they sunk roots, spawned shade,
and embraced the land that embraced them.
Centuries, by the sea’s pulmonary,
a vein throbbing humming bumboatsyour
trees rise as skyscrapers.
Their ankles lost in swilling water,
as they heave themselves higher
above the mirrored surface.
Remember your self: your raw lion heart,
Each beat a stony echo that washes
through ribbed vaults of buildings.
Remember your keris, iron lightning
ripping through tentacles of waves,
double-edged, curved to a point-
flung high and caught unsheathed, scattering
five stars in the red tapestry of your sky.
Wordle for Poem:
Wordle for Article:
Why did you pair this poem with this photo/art work and the article? What do the three have in common?
-The three have in common a nationalistic pride. The poem "Lion Heart" by Amanda Chong depicts the pride of our roots and origins as a nation, constantly reminding us to stay true to our country, "five stars in the red tapestry of your sky", refers to Singapore's flag, and is a call for us to look to our country in all that we do. The symbols in the poem "you came out of the sea, skin dappled scales of sunlight" and "the beast" are representative of the national icon- the merlion, and they are used metaphorically to resonate the spirit of the nation, one that is brave, courageous like the "emerald blaze", and also capable of overcoming challenges, as it had "conquered the shore". The article on the other hand, is a write up on Singapores unexpected and a truly taken-pride victory over Zimbabwe in the YOG soccer game. But perhaps, it shows that the team having made it "their [your] roar, their [your] call", have exhibited the "lion hearted" spirit in the poem. Also, the fact that the entire Singapore has come together to celebrate represents the pride as a nation, similar to how the flag is "flung high". The image is paired together with the poem as the fleeting clouds seemingly represents how we move on into our future, but yet, we always keep in focus being part of the nation, and being part of Singapore. The merlion depicts this as it is in kept centred in the photo, and literally "in focus".
Examine the two Wordles. What important words, if any, do the poem and article have in common? Does the word cloud make you see the themes, ideas or subjects of each more clearly? How?
Both do not contain overlapping highlighted words, but rather, the thematic similarity of a national pride links both together. In the wordle, the highlighted words in the poem are "prince, back, trees, remember, heart, embraced, waves, lion", while the striking ones are "Singapore, YOG, olympic, dazzle, team". Though the similarity in theme may not be obvious just from the wordle, it is definitely interesting to note the contrasts, keeping in mind that both refer to a nationalistic pride. The poem refers more to our past history, and being proud for our origins, while the latter is a more tangible aspect of being proud for who we are today. It shows how "nationalistic pride" is something that encompasses both a tangible and emotional aspect.
Which do you like best: the Poem, the Image or the Article? Why?
I liked the poem best. (: I really enjoyed Amanda's craft on how she allusioned to Sang Nila Utama's story with "The prince beheld you then, a golden sheen// Your eyes, two flickers; emerald gaze". It does not only refer to the founding of Singapore, but also, the spirit of the Singapore soul, brave and courages, like the "emerald gaze".
What does this pairing say about life today? Do you think someone looking at it 25 years from now would “get” the same meaning? What about 100 years from now?
25 years down the road, the meaning of the poem will never change, netiher would it 100 years down the road, provided that Singaporeans are still in touch with their roots. This is due to the fact that nationalistic pride is timeless and transcends all boundaries to those who are willing to take pride in their nation.
What other photos, art work or ST articles could also have been paired with this poem? Why?
I originally selected this photo http://www.ezthemes.com/previews/r/rwaves1024wp.jpg . I felt that it was rather suitalbe in the sense that it shows how we are willing to take our country to new heights and that Singaporeans are able to rise to challenges and "ride the waves" instead of succumbing to them. However, I felt that it was lacking as it did not exactly go in the direction of a national pride.
What other works of Literature, Film, or Fine Art can you think of that also echo, expand or even challenge the words and ideas of this poem?
I am not so sure about a film, but I feel that the National Day Parade would be a fine echo of the poem!