Lion Heart – Amanda Chong

Background

Amanda Chong wrote Lion Heart when she was only sixteen. It went on to win several prizes at international levels.

Metaphorical Inference

The poem Lion Heart is about the pride the people of Singapore have in their country. The emblem of the country is the mer-lion and this poem depicts its almost supernatural strengths as it rose from the waves, walked ashore and established the city state. Over the centuries, people from various countries have come to its shores and worked hard to enrich the country with their culture. Today, Singapore is one of the wealthiest nations and its skyscrapers stand testimony to its wealth and power. The poet exhorts the country to keep its flag flying high all the time so that the country remains one of the world leaders.

Summary

The spirit of the country is the mythical beast, merlion. The poet describes it as rising from the oceans and striding ashore holding in its fists the catch from the sea. The merlion had scales on its lower body that shone like burnished metal. The sand made markings on its back that looked like some historical writing that supplied proof of its oceanic origins. The animal’s heartbeat rang across the island like the beat of a drum. The forests in the island gave the animal shelter and refuge. Confident, the animal settled down in the island. Soon people from other parts of the world came attracted by the opportunities in this island nation. The merlion welcomes the people and they prosper. The fertile land sprouts plants and skyscrapers but through all this runs the spirit of the merlion. The poet exhorts the country to always remain true to its spirit.

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Analysis

The merlion which is the symbol of Singapore, comes gliding out from the sea with its burnished scales shining in the sunlight. It rides the waves effortlessly and as it comes ashore, it stops being an aquatic creature. Its gills close and its lungs open out. It masters the shore and the patterns made by sand on its back seem to be like a prehistoric language that provides testimony to its sea origins. The strong beat of its heart resounds like a drum made of stretched animal hide that heralds the arrival of a prince. The forest on the land shelters it. Confident, the merlion settles down and roars to let everyone know that it is the ruler. From the corners of the world, people of different cultures arrive, and are nurtured in the city state. The people prosper and the land turns verdant and skyscrapers spring up that reach out to the sky. The poet does not want the city to forget its royal beginnings, the valour that lies in its heart and its martial arts. The red flag with its five stars should ever flutter proudly.

Overall Impression

The poem aims to instil patriotism in the people of the prosperous city state, Singapore. By all accounts, it is a fine place that remains true to its glorious origins.