What Is “Ballad of a Mother’s Heart”?

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“Ballad of a Mother’s Heart” is a poem written by Jose la Villa Tierra. The poem utilizes third-person narration and tells a brief tale of a love-struck young man willing to betray his mother for a fair maiden.

In eight stanzas, la Villa Tierra uses short, precise prose with no apparent rhyming pattern and shifting meter. The protagonist of the poem is seeking a young girl’s love, but she tells him to prove himself by bringing her his mother’s heart. He runs home, and without a second thought, tears it out of her chest. In his hurry to deliver the heart, he slips and falls. He hears a voice asking if he is hurt and realizes it is his mother’s heart. In a 1935 issue of Philippine magazine, the author wrote a letter stating that he adapted the poem from a popular folk tale.