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24 June 2012

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Generally, this is what I got from "Add One More Day":

"Take heed, sons and daughters, if you have ears then listen, if you have eyes then look and see, if you obey your parents you will live longer - the answer to add one more day to your life is in hands"

After reading the poem, the first question that came to my mind was, who is talking?

God is implied in "I am who I am", but the clue in the first two lines indicate to me it can not be God saying something, although God's instructions are quoted from a father's talk, and a mother was also mentioned, both also not the voice speaking in the poem.

At this point, I can not say anymore it is just a general advice, but that it is also clearly based on a specific situation.

My narrowing-down of the general interpretation above to a more specific one now is that:

"A young man was confronted by temptation, and had to encourage himself not to fall into it. He sounds like he has priorities set already in his life, and that he was not giving way to have it changed - at least not yet, not here, not now".

His encouragements were quite comprehensive, he reminds himself that if he falls his one chance to realise his priorities is forfeited - like he is dead and gone both literally and symbolically. If he succeeds - it's like there is a future, a new beginning, another day added to him."

He comes from a typical rural PNG background that finds life difficult, probably whose relatives had little or no education, but very wise and probably strong Christians. Such a person had to be among the first from his area to receive a higher education which is a treasure not to lose, or exchange for anything else. the importance and seriousness of the messages were hinted as very single minded expressed in the short abrupt lines of the poem.

Anyway, such people often succeed, and later in life always had 'everything else' that had crossed their paths in the past.

But once a new day is added, some people live only part of it. Our advice to such a person is, be sure to always build on from previous priorities, rather than break off to start anew with wrong ones.

Hitsy Golou one of our local singers in PNG has a song that reflects this kind of story, title "Right Olgeta".

Final comments; Being conscious of use of words in poems help readers to look for clues in interpreting them. Usually in poems there is a surface story line which is just straightforward and literal as appeared, and an underlying one which in fact can be many things depending on readers' own interpretations (lessons, themes etc) implied by the surface story. If you have an underlying message to communicate indirectly using a plain surface story, then careful use of words is important. If I misinterpret "Add One More Day" then it will be due to what I had just explained. Of course, I do not believe all poems are written for general purposes where people can interpret any how they want - of course yes, but that is only the secondary reason. The primary truth is that every poem always has a soul that is one with its writer - and no poet would want that overlooked.

Take this comments as encouragement. Thanks for sharing the poem, Jimmy.

I like this poem,
how it concludes itself with the title.

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