Poetry in Epiphanic Mode: Carlos Bulosan, “If You Want to Know What We Are.”

I am still unclear on what is meant by “poetry in epiphanic mode,” as we are discussing over at Craig’s blog, but I believe the following Carlos Bulosan poem may be that. I found it at Bulalat.com.

If You Want to Know What We Are
by Carlos Bulosan

If you want to know what we are who inhabit
forest mountain rivershore, who harness
beast, living steel, martial music (that classless
language of the heart), who celebrate labour,
wisdom of the mind, peace of the blood;

If you want to know what we are who become
animate at the rain’s metallic ring, the stone’s
accumulated strength, who tremble in the wind’s
blossoming (that enervates earth’s potentialities),
who stir just as flowers unfold to the sun;

If you want to know what we are who grow
powerful and deathless in countless counterparts,
each part pregnant with hope, each hope supreme,
each supremacy classless, each classlessness
nourished by unlimited splendor of comradeship;

We are multitudes the world over, millions everywhere;
in violent factories, sordid tenements, crowded cities;
in skies and seas and rivers, in lands everywhere;
our number increase as the wide world revolves
and increases arrogance, hunger disease and death.

We are the men and women reading books, searching
in the pages of history for the lost word, the key
to the mystery of living peace, imperishable joy;
we are factory hands field hands mill hand everywhere,
molding creating building structures, forging ahead,

Reaching for the future, nourished in the heart;
we are doctors scientists chemists discovering,
eliminating disease and hunger and antagonisms;
we are soldiers navy-men citizens guarding
the imperishable will of man to live in grandeur,

We are the living dream of dead men everywhere,
the unquenchable truth that class-memories create
to stagger the infamous world with prophecies
of unlimited happiness_a deathless humanity;
we are the living and the dead men everywhere….

If you want to know what we are, observe
the bloody club smashing heads, the bayonet
penetrating hallowed breasts, giving no mercy; watch the
bullet crashing upon armorless citizens;
look at the tear-gas choking the weakened lung.

If you want to know what we are, see the lynch
trees blossoming, the hysterical mob rioting;
remember the prisoner beaten by detectives to confess
a crime he did not commit because he was honest,
and who stood alone before a rabid jury of ten men,

And who was sentenced to hang by a judge
whose bourgeois arrogance betrayed the office
he claimed his own; name the marked man,
the violator of secrets; observe the banker,
the gangster, the mobsters who kill and go free;

We are the sufferers who suffer for natural love
of man for man, who commemorate the humanities
of every man; we are the toilers who toil
to make the starved earth a place of abundance
who transform abundance into deathless fragrance.

We are the desires of anonymous men everywhere,
who impregnate the wide earth’s lustrous wealth
with a gleaming fluorescence; we are the new thoughts
and the new foundations, the new verdure of the mind;
we are the new hope new joy life everywhere.

We are the vision and the star, the quietus of pain;
we are the terminals of inquisition, the hiatuses
of a new crusade; we are the subterranean subways
of suffering; we are the will of dignities;
we are the living testament of a flowering race.

If you want to know what we are
WE ARE REVOLUTION!

4 thoughts on “Poetry in Epiphanic Mode: Carlos Bulosan, “If You Want to Know What We Are.”

  1. wow, this is our speech in our verse choir.. hoping tha this will be our winning piece!.. God bless!

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