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Monday, May 9, 2011

He Had Such Quiet Eyes by Bibsy Soenharjo: Elements of the Poem – Literal and Figurative Meaning

Stanza 1
Literal MeaningWhen the persona looked into the young man’s sincere-looking eyes, she was deceived into thinking that he needed someone to love. She was not aware that betrayal was second nature to him. His eyes even made her feel compelled to be ‘nice’ to him.
Figurative Meaning

Meeting people and getting involved in a social relationship is part and parcel of life. However, along the way, we may meet two-faced people with ulterior motives. Sometimes, they may come across as so sincere that we innocently accept them as friends or partners.
Stanza 2
Literal MeaningWhen the persona was betrayed by the man, she wondered why she had not been wiser. She should have remembered the age-old advice of not believing man blindly. If she had held on to her principles, she would not be asking herself why she had been cheated.
Figurative Meaning

Social relationships can turn sour if one party betrays the other. Hence, one should be careful of the other party’s motives. In any case, do not compromise your principles, as someone who is sincere would not force you into giving up your morals.
Stanza 3
The poet advises young ladies to be more careful before getting involved in relationships with men. They must make sure they know then men well. They should learn to differentiate between sincerity and falsehood. They will eventually meet the right man, though they may lose their heats to a few times before that.   
Literal Meaning
It is always good to be cautious before committing to a relationship to avoid serious consequences. You have to make sure you can trust the person you befriend. Do not gamble with your affections, even when you fall in love.
Figurative Meaning
Themes
(1) Strong Moral Values and Self-Respect

The woman in the poem got herself into a difficult situation and was cheated by a man because she gave in to his pleading and his insincere lies. She displayed weakness in her moral standing and lost her self-respect as a result. We should never lower our self-esteem no matter how much we like a man. If a man has respect for the woman he loves, he too would not ask her to do what is morally wrong.
(2) Deception in Appearances
The woman is taken in by the man’s gentle and quiet eyes. She thinks he is a truthful and trustworthy person. The theme in this poem focuses on deception in appearances. Do not judge a person’s character by his appearance. As can be seen in this poem, a gentle and kind-looking man can actually be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
(3) Consequences
When we make mistakes in life, we have to live with the consequences. The persona tells us that the woman is haunted with questions of ‘hows and whys’. She probably asks herself every day how she could have fallen for his lies; how she could have forgotten the moral values instilled in her by her parents; how she could have ignored all the advice given to her by people who love and care about her. She would probably also wonder why she had not been wiser in her choice of men; why she did not see through his deception and insincerity.
(4) Listen to Advice
The poet wants to reach out to all young readers. The woman in the poem wished she ‘had listened to the advice’. She poured out her disappointment, frustration and hurt in this poem and wished she had ‘been wise’. The poet cautions young readers that they should not be impulsive in their actions and they should, above all, listen to the advice of their elders so that they would not end up like the woman – full of regrets.
Moral Values & Lessons LearntWe sometimes encounter people who have ill intentions towards us.
(1) Avoid Being Deluded by Looks or Appearance
  • These are con men who prey on young women.
  • They look nice and decent but have bad motives.
  • So we should take precaution against them.
  • We should not judge a book by its cover.
(2) Listen to Beneficial Advice


  • We are given good advice when others feel that we need it.
  • We should listen to their advice.
  • The advice is for our own good.
  • It prevents us from getting hurt or getting into trouble.
Setting
  • The poem is set in the present – the world around us now.
  • It highlights the fact that the people around us are not always sincere.
  • They may have ulterior motives towards us.
  • Some have the intention to cheat us.
  • In the case of the woman in the poem, the man only wanted to have sexual pleasure from her.
  • However, she saw him as a man in need of love and consolation.
  • The poem puts forward the need to practise caution when we deal with the people around us.


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Collection of SPM English Language Question Papers

2005
Terengganu Trial [Paper 1]

2007
Johor Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Terengganu Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2] [Answers], Melaka Trial 2007 [Paper 1] [Paper 2], TIMES [Paper 1] [Paper 2] SPB [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

2008

Terengganu Mid Year [Paper 1] [Paper 2],
Trial
MRSM Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], SBP Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Kelantan Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Terengganu Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Kedah Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Johor Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Perlis Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Sabah Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Sarawak Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Melaka Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

2009

Terengganu TOV [Paper 1] [Paper 2] Terengganu Mid Year [Paper 1] [Paper 2]
Melaka Trial , Johor Trial , Sabah Trial , Kedah Trial , Perlis Trial , Times , SBP , Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

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