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Um escritor, um poeta, um aventureiro,

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Violence and War

Queen’s University, Belfast

International Conference at the
School of Languages, Literature & Art

Violence and War in Celso Oliveira’s
Timor-Leste: A Música e A Pátria

September, 2007
Maria Teresa Maia Carrilho


Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you –
Ye are many; they are few!
Shelley




My communication is designed to make more intelligible certain concepts and attitudes of the Timorese people, with respect to violence and war and presenting as their distinguishing attribute, the struggle for real freedom.
In order to do this, I will focus on some relevant poems from a book entitled A Música e a Pátria/Music and Homeland, written by the Timorese poet Celso Oliveira, who is well aware of the shortcomings of East Timor and who questions the nation` s myths and ideology trespassing its culture.
The impact of Timor` s struggle has remained a constant presence in Oliveira` s poems and articles. He shows his concerns with political, social, economic and cultural issues and wants to demonstrate the association of Catholic religion and tradition with the evolving Timorese situation.
In A Música e a Pátria/Music and Homeland, Oliveira concentrates on the forces that have affected the Timorese and on the problems arising from the difficult mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness. Not surprisingly, these poems reflect the restlessness, interior despair and alienation felt by the poet, and we could even say, from the start, that the central theme of these poems is the integration of interior and exterior realities.
The poet arranges his poems according to universal concerns such as ancestors, family, church, faith, homeland. At times sad, helpless and angry, at others respectful, hopeful, believing in the future, Oliveira` s poems join different voices to express his patriotic concerns.
As we know, post-colonial studies pay a special attention to language, because this has really played and will keep playing a crucial role in the debate concerning nation, religion, class, identity, and other concepts.
And since the understanding of poetry requires a purely personal response and because I would like to connect Oliveira` s feelings, emotions and other experiences stored up by him, my analysis will adopt a double approach: political and literary.
Dealing with the real experiences of violence and war, Oliveira` s poems illustrate the disillusionment of constant conflicts, rebellions, acts of terrorism, apathy, silence, despair, the difficulty of having a country ruled by a democracy, which is a key concept. Democracy is a recurrent theme in his poetry. As Steven Poole notes:
The term democracy has held and still holds a rather exceptional position in political terminologies of very different kinds. (…) The occurrence of a word having such a status is almost unique in the history of the human languages. It has almost probably never happened before that the same political term, which for a long time has been used in eulogistic, derogatory and neutral ways, has been almost unanimously accepted as the main political slogan of nearly all political parties. (2007: 195)

But it is well accepted that terrorism is a strong weapon used to prevent democracy. As Poole writes: “Terrorism is the threat or use of violence against a civilian population in order to coerce the leaders of that population into a particular political decision.(…) Coercion works through fear, the essential emotional component of terrorism.” (2007: 127)

With terrorism, there is no freedom. As Ian O. Lesser and others state:

.Terrorist risks cannot be eliminated, only contained and managed.
. Effective counterterrorism strategies must address the problem of networks and individuals, not just sponsors.
. Terrorists tend to innovate in an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary manner in their attacks on military forces and other targets, staying just ahead of countermeasures.
. There is an imperative of close coordination among intelligence, civilian and military agencies. (1999: 126)

Showing the Timorese struggle for freedom, the real values that Celso Oliveira promotes and defends are real independence, honesty, sociability, optimism, equality and progress, in other words, the future. Freedom is, however, very difficult for the Timorese to achieve, because as Poole wrote: “Freedom depends on law. The law demands that in exercising your freedom, you do not unduly reduce that of others. We do not think anyone should be free to murder people. John Locke made the point with aphoristic precision. ´where there is no law, there is no freedom.` (…) So freedom depends on law, and law in the end will be enforced, if necessary through violence.” (2007: 191)
The struggle for real freedom is the characteristic of Oliveira’s poetry. It has remained a constant presence and is especially seen in his poetic sensibility. He is always concerned with questions of identity. The poet` s concept of identity is always directed towards political actions. Likewise, he thinks in terms of ideology, since this concept has to do with “the aspirations of people for freedom and a decent standard of living.” (Adams, 1993: 347)
It is worth noting that on one level, Oliveira` s poems deal with the real experiences of war and violence. On another level, they deal with universal conformity, with the sense of being apparently lost. The poet makes us feel the country` s crises and his qualities of sensibility and lucidity. He has been concerned with calling the attention to the re-forging of a distinctive voice in Timorese cultural tradition.
The effect is really very complex and we get a vision from various angles and of a country in transition. But, once again, we must pay attention to look up words, for each one may have more than one meaning. Words may even manipulate emotions and feelings and thus influence the tone, and, obviously, the readers. As Emerson used to declare, “Words are signs of natural facts.”
Likewise, with respect to this variety of angles and visions, T.S. Eliot pointed out:
“The reader’s response to poetry differs accordingly not only to their literary, critical, political, and philosophical, but also according to elements of their personal background. This explains the magic of poetry”. Like Magill, I must say, however, that “the best modern readers realize that good poetry analysis observes all aspects of a poem. Its technical success, its historical importance and intellectual force, and its effect on the reader’s emotions.” (Magill, 1992: 4032)

In order to appreciate fully Oliveira` s poems, I will try to consider, whenever possible, such important elements as the dramatic situation, point of view, imagery and allusions.
As far as the dramatic situation is concerned, it is worth noting the importance of the setting (time and location) of the poems, the relationship between characters and the development of the poem. The poet places his poems into historical context.
Both the dramatic situation and the point of view must be consistent. Closely linked with the point of view, the dramatic situation establishes the poet` s tension and the theme. It may, however, shift, and whenever it does, we must establish the relationship between the poet and the setting.
As for the point of view, the poet Oliveira very often uses the common person, thus allowing the reader direct access to the events and to his thoughts. As a matter of fact, he wants the reader to identify with the poet´ s own thoughts, emotions and reactions to the situation, which are dramatic.
As for allusions, the poet is very often making references to historical events. These allusions are important not only for the understanding of events alluded to, but also for the details of those events.
In the poem Eu e a Guerra/About me and War, he refers to the opposition and consequences of capitalism and communism. He also uses irony, which is one of the most relevant concepts in literary criticism. Verbal irony is used in many different contexts with a variety of meanings, especially when he wants to undermine the actions of politicians. He wants the Timorese out of an ambiguous bondage. He writes:

Eu e a Guerra
Eu odeio a guerra porque
A guerra destruiu a nossa infância, a juventude, a formação e o futuro.
A guerra separou os pais, os filhos, os irmãos e as famílias.
A guerra trouxe a miséria, a fome, o ódio, a vingança e o rancor.
A guerra deixou viúvas e órfãos.
A guerra alimentou os oportunistas e destruiu a identidade timorense.
Sobre a última guerra em Timor, não foi a minha geração nem o próprio povo timorense que a iniciou. Timor Leste foi vítima da guerra-fria, isto é, a guerra entre capitalismo e comunismo.
O que conto na minha solidão é a história do povo de Timor, que fez a guerra com força determinante do seu destino. A finalidade de todas as guerras era alcançar a liberdade, a dignidade e a independência. Mas todas estas guerras deixaram “marcas profundas” nos timorenses porque ao longo de muitos séculos, os timorenses praticaram violência uns contra os outros.
Finalmente chegou a liberdade no dia 30 de Agosto de 1999. Esta vitória, liberdade e independência valerá se acabarem as violências praticadas durante muitos séculos.
Timor Leste fechou um capítulo da história da humanidade no século XX- uma guerra longa e dura contra uma grande potência na Ásia, a Indonésia.

About me and war
I hate war because
War destroys our childhood, our youth, our development and future
War splits up parents, children, brothers and sisters, family
War brought misery, famine, hatred, vengeance and resent.
War made widows and orphans.
War sustained opportunists and destroyed the Timorese identity.
Let us consider the last war in Timor. Neither my generation nor my people started it. East Timor was the victim of the cold war, that is, the war between capitalism and communism.
In my loneliness, I sing the history of the Timorese people, who waged war, using the leading force of their destiny. The target of these wars was to achieve freedom, dignity, and independence. But all these wars left deep scars in the Timorese, for these have used violence against each other, along endless centuries.
But freedom came at last, on August 30, 1999. This victory, freedom and independence will result, as long as the long lasting violence is over.
East Timor ended up a chapter of the 20th century – a long tough war against a great power in Asia, Indonesia.
(my translation)

This poem deserves a special attention, for besides representing feelings and other experiences that the poet has stored up, they also serve to remind readers of the threats of the constant conflict between capitalism and communism. Besides, they reshape his vision of the future.
In responding to the war, the East Timorese experienced a new form of unity, exhortations to courage, a clear affirmation of purpose.

In the poem Imagine/Imagine, the poet is concerned with the destruction of the Timorese society, which seems unable to react and live up to its ideals.
All the historical factors have contributed to the sense of individual isolation. Oliveira judges very harshly, and urges the reader to be conscious of the alienating Timorese society and the perils of alienating the self. Against the situation of war and violence, against all kinds of pressures, we feel the poet` s anguish, distress, fear. Silence and fear had become the norm of living to many people. This raises special concern in Oliveira. He knows that many Timorese are forced to adopt distorted presentations of self, in order to survive.

Imagine
Imagine!
Imagine, meu amigo!
Tantos problemas que existem na vida!
Os dos nossos filhos, dos nossos pais, da nossa identidade, entre outros,
Mas este é o maior. A Pátria está ocupada.

Imagine!
Imagine, meu amigo!
De manhã já temos medo.
Temos razão, mas não podemos defendê-la.
Os padres e as madres obrigados a mentir.
O homem vive sem dignidade.
Os velhos isolam-se.
Não há conversa livre.
Não há casais felizes.
Não há crianças que brincam em liberdade.
Não há escritor que escreva em liberdade.

Imagine!
Imagine, meu amigo!
Que todos os dias gritamos, mas ninguém nos ouve.
Que todos os dias e todas as noites rezamos, mas continuamos a morrer.
Que o Vaticano apoia a presença da República Indonésia em Timor-Leste.
Que os grandes países e as grandes potências
Apoiam a presença militar da República Indonésia em Timor-Leste.

Imagine!
Que a música que tocamos não nos dá alegria
Mas tristeza e revolta interior.
Que os carrinhos de bebé não se usam
Para passear livremente nas ruas de Díli
Mas apenas dentro de casa.
Que existe Polícia, Advogados, Juízes e Tribunal
Mas os timorenses estão a ser julgados fora de todos os sistemas.

Imagine
Imagine!
Imagine, my friend!
So many problems in life!
From our children, parents, from our identity.
But this is the toughest: our homeland is occupied.

Imagine!
Imagine, my friend!
We feel fear in the morning.
We` re right but we can` t defend ourselves.
Priests and nuns are obliged to lie.
A man can`t keep his dignity
The elderly live alone.
There` s no free talk.
There are no merry couples.
There no kids playing freely.
There` s no writer writing in freedom.

Imagine!
Imagine, my friend!
That although we shout every day, no one listens to us.
Although we pray every day, every night, we keep on suffering, dying.
The Vatican supports the presence of the Republic of Indonesia in East Timor.
The strong countries and the strong powers
Support the military presence of the Republic of Indonesia in East Timor.

Imagine!
That the music we listen to, does not cheer us up
Only brings us sadness and interior despair
The prams are not used
To be pushed freely on Díli streets,
Only inside the house.
(my translation)

Readers can well understand the appeal to the universal rights, which should be really universal in their application.
The same intention is observed in the poem À espera do tempo/Waiting for the time. The poet briefly suggests a multiplicity of dramatic situations, offering concrete human experiences, realistic portraits of a population abandoned, oppressed, but at the same time still hoping, determined to win. Especially noticeable is the poet` s quality of making readers acknowledge the nightmares of such ways of living! As the lines are short and almost unrhymed, we are required to pay more attention to the subject. We may even say that all lines are stressed, in order to create a very powerful effect.

À espera do tempo
É longa espera,
É confusão,
É silêncio,
É solilóquio,
É morte,
É doença,
É embriaguez,
É paciência,
É raiva,
É vingança,
É humildade,
É frustação,
É esperança,
É lágrimas,
É brincar,
É dormir,
É rir,
É estudar,
É trabalhar,
É fingir,
É mentir.

Crianças, jovens, adultos, velhos.
Pássaros, terra, mar, quintas, animais, montanhas.
Calçadas, camisas, panos, berço, fraldas.
Garrafas, copos, pratos, catanas.
...................................................
As crianças nascem e brincam longe da terra.
Os estudantes estudam longe da terra.
Os pais trabalham longe da terra.

Todos à espera do tempo.
Todos à espera da liberdade.

Todos à espera do tempo.
Todos à espera da liberdade.

Waiting for the time
It`s a long waiting
It’s a mess
It’s silence
It`s a soliloquy
It`s death
It`s illness
It`s drunkness
It`s patience
It`s anger
It`s vengeance
It`s humbleness
It`s frustration
It`s hope
It`s tears
It`s playing
It`s sleeping
It`s laughing
It`s studying
It`s working
It`s feigning
It`s lying

Kids, teenagers, adults, elderly
Birds, earth, sea, farms,
Pavements, shirts, cloths, cradles, diapers,
Bottles, glasses, plates, cutlass.

Kids are born and play far from home.
Students study far from their land.
Their parents work far away.

All of them waiting for the time.
All of them waiting for freedom.

All of them waiting for the time.
All of them waiting for freedom.

(my translation)

In the poem Terço na mão/With the Rosary in their Hands, the poet illustrates the connection between political and religious matters. He interprets unity as the fundamental task of religion. In fact, war led to a temporary harmony through suffering.


Terço na mão
Fora do cemitério de Santa Cruz,
Os soldados Indonésios dispararam tiros.
Dentro do cemitério,
Os jovens timorenses rezavam o terço em Português.

Desesperados, com medo, choro e gritos.
Mas com fé, confiança e esperança em Nossa Senhora de Fátima.

Os soldados entraram no cemitério,
Os jovens timorenses cada vez mais rezavam e cantavam mais.

“ Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fátima,
Rogai por nós!”

Até ao pôr-do-sol.

Os mortos foram enterrados sem destino,
Os feridos foram levados para o hospital militar em Lahane,
Os vivos foram presos nas cadeias em Díli até Semarang.


“ Fé, confiança, esperança, desejo, promessa, reclamação, exclamação, Lágrima, orgulho, amor, despedida.”


Fátima é o caminho para todas as mães timorenses.

Agora, em Fátima rezo por vós.


With the Rosary in theirHands
Outside Santa Cruz’s graveyard
Indonesian soldiers fired their rifles.
Inside the graveyard
Young Timorese said the Rosary in Portuguese,

Desperate, anguished, shouting and screaming,
But feeling faith, confidence, and hope in Our Lady of Fatima.

The soldiers entered the graveyard,
The young Timorese prayed and kept singing

“Our Lady of Fatima,
Pray for us!”

Until the sunset.

The dead were buried at random
The wounded were carried to the military hospital in Lahane,
Those alive were put into jail from Díli to Semarang.

“Faith, confidence, hope, wish, promise, complaints, cries, tears,
Pride, love, farewell.”

Fatima is the road to all Timorese mothers.

Now in Fatima I pray for you all.

(my translation)


This poem presents evidence that the tradition of Timor` s cultural and religious appeal has been widely felt for many years and that it generated some problems in the political life.
It is well known that some political disputes escalated very rapidly to deaths. Rui Centeno and Rui Novais write about the consequences of the massacre, in 1999: “O terror instalado na sequência dos tumultos de Setembro de 1999 provocou dezenas de milhares de deslocados e de refugiados. Aproximadamente 250 mil pessoas foram forçadas a abandonar os seus lares.” (2006: 75) / “The terror created as a consequence of the riots in September, 1999, caused tens of thousands of displaced and refugees. About 250 thousand people were forced to leave their homes.”
The church was always there, ready to react, becoming a forum for voicing protest. In fact, it encouraged the struggle against the invaders of Indonesian invaders. The rise of religious fervour in Timor was significant in several aspects, playing a key role in the evolution of the political situation. First, by uniting people, it also increased the Indonesian violence against the Timorese population. Second, and more significantly, it gave rise to an international phenomenon of help and empathy with the suffering people of Timor. The problem became an international subject and many countries pressed the Indonesian government to stop violence and war in Timor. It is well documented that the Indonesian political authority used coercion, force, threats, arrests, murder.
Anthony Birch is well aware of the responsibilities of a government:

A government that is regarded as legitimate should not have to use force over more than a very small minority of its citizens, just as army officers should not have constantly to put their men on disciplinary charges and police officers should not often have to use their batons. Ideally, authority should be exercised by word of mouth or by the pen, without any need to use force. (…)it is also true that most kinds of political authority are backed by the threat, open or veiled, of coercion in cases of non-compliance. (1995: 31-32)

The leadership and power of the church in Timor are rooted in symbols of the Catholic religion, of the heritage of the Portuguese culture. Religion is, after all, a word that draws heavily on Timorese concerns: freedom and union. In their faith, people have perpetuated the local identity.
The poem Pátria/Homeland is a very rich passage, since it invokes concepts and myths. First, the theme of authority is central. At issue is the human authority and the grounds of its legitimacy. Second, and again, we can see the matter of freedom. The poet has a dream and this dream will keep being the most powerful myth in his mind. Warfare, violence, crime are the problems of Timor. The resurrection of the country is Oliveira` s constant dream!

Pátria
É uma vez na vida.
Se não agarrarmos bem,
Nunca mais!

Se traírmos,
Choramos e arrependemo-nos.
Se proclamarmos a independência
Orgulhamo-nos.

A Pátria é o beijo,
Da criança ao velho.
A Pátria é a promessa,
Do velho à criança.
A Pátria é a música,
Ritmo na vida
Pensamento e trabalho.
A Pátria é o olhar,
Crianças a brincar, a rir, a gritar, a chorar em Liberdade.
A Pátria é o abraço,
Da mulher ao marido.
A Pátria é a nudez,
Dos jovens, que sofrem e morrem nas celas,
Dos órfãos e das viúvas da guerra.
A pátria é o livro sagrado,
Dos poetas que escrevem poemas.

“PÁTRIA”
Timor Lorosa’e

Homeland
That` s once in a lifetime.
If we don` t catch it once,
We ´ ll never do that again!

If we betray,
We` ll cry and regret.

If we proclaim our Independence,
We` ll be proud of it.

Homeland is the kiss,
Of the kid and of the old.
Homeland is the music,
The rhythm in life
Thought and work.
Homeland is the look,
Kids playing, laughing, yelling, crying in Freedom.
Homeland is the food,
Of children being born and growing up.
Homeland is the hug,
From husband to wife.
Homeland is nakedness
From the young, suffering and dying in cells.
Homeland is the cry above cries,
From orphans and widows of war.
Homeland is the sacred book,
Of the poets who write the poems:

“HOMELAND”
Timor Lorosa’e

(my translation)

The poem O quarto dum clandestino/A clandestine’s room is very special. It is only inhabited by people waiting, suffering, preparing for guerrilla. The Timorese used guerrilla warfare to force the Indonesian government to give them the right to rule themselves. As Frank Barnaby puts it:

Guerrilla warfare is waged by groups of irregular forces (…), usually in sporadic attacks of short duration. (…)Guerrilla groups are much smaller than a country` s regular forces and much less well equipped. They would, normally be armed mainly with small arms and would not have access to very heavy weapons. Their tactics would be hit-and-run – to wear down the opposing forces- rather than to fight set-piece battles.(…) guerrillas hope that these tactics will eventually defeat the government` s military forces by attrition or force the government to negotiate to avoid the large costs of continuing the conflict.” (2007: 94-95)

O quarto dum clandestino
O quarto dum clandestino é muito escuro.
Ninguém pode entrar.
Pai, mãe, filhos, irmãos, irmãs e amigos.
A porta e a janela estão sempre fechadas.
De dia e de noite.

O quarto dum clandestino é cheio de pensamentos,
Tácticas de guerrilha, “conviver com o inimigo”, cartas,
Documentos, boletins, jornais, livros, cassetes, rolos, medicamentos.

O quarto dum clandestino cheira mal.
Seu dono nunca o abandona, seja como for.
Come e bebe dentro dele.

O quarto dum clandestino tem um oratório.
Terço, imagem de Nossa Senhora de Fátima,
Estátua de Stº. António, Sagrada Família, velas e lulik.

O quarto dum clandestino tem uma máquina de escrever,
Papéis, tintas, cadernos, canetas, lápis.

Às vezes aparecem, de surpresa, gentes clandestinas ou guerrilheiros neste
quarto.
“Vimos para descansar um pouquinho. Só um pouco”,
Dizem estas gentes clandestinas ou os guerrilheiros.

The clandestine’s room
The clandestine` s room is very dark
No one may enter it: father, mother, brothers and sisters, friends.
Doors and windows always closed
Day and night.

The clandestine` s room is full of thoughts,
Guerrilla tactics,
Documents, bulletins, newspapers, books, tapes, rolls of films, medicine.
The clandestine` s room stinks.
Whatever it happens,
Its owner never leaves it.
He eats and drinks inside it.

The clandestine` s room has a shrine: a rosary, an image of Our Lady of Fatima,
St. Anthony` s statuette, the Sacred Family, candles and lulik
The clandestine` s room has a typing machine,
Papers, ink, exercise-books, pens, pencils.

Clandestine people or guerrilla leaders turn up occasionally at this room.
“We’ve come to rest a while, just a while”,
These clandestine people or guerrilla leaders usually say.

(my translation)

The last poem of this book, A Música e A Pátria/Music and Homeland, which gave the title to this book of poems, epitomizes human suffering, thoughts, homesickness, dreams of freedom, identity. On the one hand, the poet reacts very well to music, as it represents a gentler aspect of life, crucial to his emotional health. On the other hand, however, music stirs sad feelings of homesickness, of distress, of the uncertain future of the country.

A Música e a Pátria
A música da guerra é a música da saudade.
Saudade do nosso tempo de infância que foi estragada pela guerra.
Também é a música do orgulho que faz continuar a lutar.
A música é acompanhada com palavras bonitas que dão motivação, coragem e
amor.

A nossa terra é longe de mim, de todos nós.
Pensar na pátria é pensar com coração e alma.

E olharmos para as palavras bonitas que formam versos, canções e poesia,
Porque a pátria é demasiado longe.

Nem um cigarro nem uma cerveja,
Nem uma música,
Nem uma música
Podem substituir a pátria.
O cigarro, a cerveja e a música apenas matam alguma saudade.

Este é um verdadeiro amor por Timor.
Sem dúvida nenhuma.
Esta música que tocamos apenas para matar a saudade,
Não substitui a nossa pátria distante.

A música termina,
O cigarro e a cerveja acabam,
Mas a pátria dá os filhos e eles crescem para construir Timor.

Este silêncio afinal é um olhar profundo para o futuro.


Music and Homeland
The music of war is the music of homesickness
Longing for our childhood, wretched by war.
It` s also the music of pride that makes us keep fighting.

Music is followed by nice words making us motivated, courageous and caring.

Our land is far away, far from us.
Thinking of homeland is thinking with our hearts and souls.

And we stare at nice words forming verses, and poetry,
Feeling homesick, proud, loving, so often tearfully
For homeland is so far away.

But a cigarette,
A glass of bier,
A music
Can never substitute homeland.
The cigarette, the bier and the music can only kill sorrow.
They can’t stand in for distant homeland.

There` s no doubt:
This is true love for Timor.
This music we only play to kill sorrow,
Does not substitute our distant homeland.

Music ends,
The cigarette and the bier finish, as well.
But homeland bears children and they grow up to build Timor.
After all, this silence is a long staring look.

(my translation)


All the themes and motifs (small recurring ideas) in the poems above make us conclude about social, moral, political ideas, thus synthesizing the poet` s experience.
I have said before that Oliveira uses language for artistic purposes. The poet breaks down the formal structures of poetry and uses an ordinary language. But when he puts words together, he is also operating with highly symbolic meanings. Most of the words and phrases tend to recall facts, events, nightmares, dreams. His discourse results efficiently, even when it is made up of short verbal signals or when there is a shift in parts of the speech. Oliveira` s analysis is, actually, really insightful and convincing. The great theme of his poetry and other writings has been the exploration of what it means to be a Timorese. On the face of this, his poems are remarkable, for he portrays the appalling difficulty of Timor becoming a real independent country, far from any exterior authority.
My concluding argument is that it is the question of ideology that marks Oliveira` s position in the conflict of East Timor. All his poems are set firmly in the context of war and violence, in the ideology of conflict, which is very much alive in the world environment of today. Oliveira is obsessed with problems of behaviour, morals.
Oliveira`s poems can be defined as straightforward, realistic portraits of Timor`s struggles. Although they are sometimes difficult to define in clear-cut terms, we must agree that the poet is always concerned with helping his homeland attain its identity and purpose as a real new country.
For him, the urgent task for Timor`s leaders is to shift the policy of the country in a progressive way, so that the population can help stimulate and challenge the potentialities of the nation.
Living on the contemporary era, the people of Timor is still threatened by the constant political crises. The poet urges the population to give up being passive and apathetic. He alerts to the perils of the interests of his people, which very often do not coincide with the national interests.
Noam Chomsky is very clear when he declares on this respect: “Policy conforms to expressed ideals only if it also conforms to interests. The term “interests does not refer to the interests of the population, but to the “national interest” – the interests of the concentrations of power that dominate the society.” (2007: 216)
Cultural and religious traditions, with which the poet merges emotionally, offer inspiration to the Timorese. They look like a voice that inspires the whole Timorese community, by providing them a real sense of identity and purpose.
Focusing on concrete experiences rather than on abstract universals, Oliveira ends up attaining a heroic stature, because of his voice and vision.
In light of what Oliveira writes, I must say that his poems involve a journey, a journey of emotions and thoughts, a portrait of his authenticity: a man who has suffered, who experienced pain, distress, despair, doubts, pessimism, but who still has the ability to maintain hope. As Richard S. Lazarus and Bernice N. Lazarus write:
The emotions are products of personal meaning, which depends on what is important to us and the things we believe about ourselves, and the world. It is the meaning we give to the events and conditions of our lives that makes us feel angry, anxious, guilty, proud, loving and so forth. To understand our own or another` s emotions is to understand the ways people interpret the significance of daily events in their lives, and how these events affect their personal well-being. (1994: 5)

Engaging with the uncanny aspects of the existence, thoughts and feelings, Celso Oliveira is ultimately questioning the roots of idealism, identity and the perception of history itself, for his poems reach beyond national frontiers.
We do not know if Oliveira will earn the glory of posterity. But we know that the heritage of poetry belongs to all the people who are able to enjoy it. In T.S.Eliot`s words,

The mature stage of enjoyment of poetry comes, when we cease to identify ourselves with the poet we happen to be reading; when our critical faculties remain awake; when we are aware of what one poet can be expected to give and what he cannot. The poem has its own existence, apart from us; it was there before us and will endure after us. (1963: 34)



Works cited
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