GRADUATION POEM FOR MISS USA

By Luis G. Dato

Dear queen, on this occasion historic and sublime,
Which will be all recorded as annals of our time,
It is indeed an honor on coronation night,
In tribute to your beauty bright verses to indite.
This is a supreme moment that now the USA,
Of Iriga the first one, should see the light of day,
It is, how shall we say it?, a torch whose light shall glow
All over Bicolandia for every home to know
The triumph and the glory, the victory to shine
And make our exultations less human than divine.

‘Tis later than we reckon, at three score years and four,
Our muse has grown quite sullen, her wings no longer soar,
And by a quiet corner, the long-neglected lyre
For years has lain too laggard to follow our desire;
And so your gracious pardon which youth to age bestows,
That we begin in poetry and end it in plain prose.

And some have raised the question: this 20th century,
When as we turn all corners, we see democracy,
When constitutions govern the nations everywhere,
And we have built republics, for all the standard fare,
When kings and queens have vanished, their former power gone,
Which erstwhile they had wielded in days forever flown,
Whyfore this glorious evening should we elect a queen
To reign these festal moments, when past their time has been?

The answer is not obvious: two governments we have,
Beneath which live the people, the potentate and slave,
One is by laws of congress, executive decree,
The other is unwritten, the customs by degrees
With time accumulated, which people all obey
To honor their ancestors who wisdom in them saw,
And both the one, the other have the full force of law,
But when the systems conflict, to custom law must bow,
The recent has less sanction beside the long ago.

And one such Bikol custom, in fact in every land
Unchallenged and accepted because we understand,
Is this which pays to beauty, respect and homage due.
The lovelier the deeper in our regard we view
The woman by our suffrage we chose as sovereign,
And so our celebration we deem to be in vain
And not complete with meaning, unless to her we give
Our fealty and allegiance, and ‘neath her aegis live.

And so, tonight we hail you, most gracious muse and queen,
Beloved of all your subjects, the fairest they have seen,
As in the long-lost ages, of whom no bard now sings
When Bikol lived in freedom, ruled by our native kings,
Your beauty not just sensual, but of the soul and mind,
That in these days so seldom the eye may ever find.
What crown with gems more brilliant may we on you bestow,
What diadems of splendor to grace your royal brow,
Than this your people’s tribute of reverence and love
To shine like stars perennial that roam the skies above?

May then your reign resplendent, peace and abundance give
To every home and hamlet that all may cease to grieve,
And spreading blessings plenty with a majestic wand,
Reach every nook and corner of this our Bikol land,
And long in memory linger when we this hall depart
To fill with sweet contentment each ever-yearning heart,
And dwell in us eternal when all have passed away,
Majestical and glorious forever and a day.

Luis Dato
Luis Dato

Luis G. Dato (July 4, 1906 - January 29, 1985) was a poet, writer and educator from Sta. Cruz, Baao, Camarines Sur. He published books in English including Manila A Collection of verse (1926), My Book of Verses (1936) and the Land of Mai in 1975. He also wrote several books and text in Bikol such as, Vocabulario Bikol-Ingles-Kastila (1963), Cantahon na Bikol (1969), Morfologia kan Tataramon na Bikol (serialized in Naga Times), Patotodon sa Bikol (Bikol Mail) and Sarabihon sa Bikol.

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