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Jose Rizal’s Poems: A Compilation

Jose Rizal’s Poems: A Compilation
(Copyright 2013 by OurHappySchool.com, All rights reserved)
 
POETRY REVEALS an individual’s hopes, dreams, aspirations and goodbyes. The genius in Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero, has resulted to several poems during his childhood, schooling, life struggles and martyrdom. Let us take a peek at our national hero’s poetry.

1. TO MY FELLOW CHILDREN (Sa Aking Mga Kababata, 1869)
Note: Many scholars nowadays believe that Jose Rizal was not the real author of this poem. Ask your professor about it.

Whenever people of a country truly love
The language which by heav'n they were taught to use
That country also surely liberty pursue
As does the bird which soars to freer space above.
 

 

Refer these to your siblings/children/younger friends:

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An Open Letter to School Principals, Teachers, and Parents

For language is the final judge and referee
Upon the people in the land where it holds sway;
In truth our human race resembles in this way
The other living beings born in liberty.

Whoever knows not how to love his native tongue
Is worse than any best or evil smelling fish.
To make our language richer ought to be our wish
The same as any mother loves to feed her young.

Tagalog and the Latin language are the same
And English and Castilian and the angels' tongue;
And God, whose watchful care o'er all is flung,
Has given us His blessing in the speech we calim,

Our mother tongue, like all the highest that we know
Had alphabet and letters of its very own;
But these were lost -- by furious waves were overthrown
Like bancas in the stormy sea, long years ago.



The famous poem was a nationalistic undertaking to promote the usage of Tagalog language by the Filipino people. 

The poem “To My Fellow Children” was believed to be the national hero’s first written Tagalog poem at the age of eight. However, it was said that this poem was published posthumously a hundred years after his death sentence.

Doubts concerning the real author of this poem have emerged.   Critics say that he could not possibly have written “Sa Aking mga Kababata” due to his juvenile age. Normally, the age ranging from 7 to 8 is the developmental age by which a child is just beginning to read. Hence, it is quite nonsensical that a child at this age could write a five-stanza poem with profound words at that. Besides, records say that Jose Rizal had correspondence with Paciano, his brother, concerning some of his difficulties in the Tagalog language particularly in translation.

Furthermore, the use of mature insights and terminologies is quite unrealistic for an eight year old boy. Allegedly, he had only encountered the word “kalayaan” (used several times in the poem) when he was already 21 years old.

From the National Library of the Philippines, records show that “Sa aking mga kabata” was not published in the original Tagalog but in a free Spanish translation of the Tagalog by Epifano delos Santos as “A mis companeros de ninez”.

The poem is still believed to be written by the hero, but the claim for authorship is still open.


2. MY FIRST INSPIRATION (Mi Primera Inspiracion, 1874)

Why falls so rich a spray 
of fragrance from the bowers 
of the balmy flowers 
upon this festive day? 

Why from woods and vales 
do we hear sweet measures ringing 
that seem to be the singing 
of a choir of nightingales? 

Why in the grass below 
do birds start at the wind's noises, 
unleashing their honeyed voices 
as they hop from bough to bough? 

Why should the spring that glows 
its crystalline murmur be tuning 
to the zephyr's mellow crooning 
as among the flowers it flows? 

Why seems to me more endearing, 
more fair than on other days, 
the dawn's enchanting face 
among red clouds appearing? 

The reason, dear mother, is 
they  feast your day of bloom: 
the rose with its perfume, 
the bird with its harmonies. 

And the spring that rings with laughter 
upon this joyful day 
with its murmur seems to say: 
'Live happily ever after!' 

And from that spring in the grove 
now turn to hear the first note 
that from my lute I emote 
to the impulse of my love.



Most likely, Mi Primera Inspiracion was the first poem Jose Rizal wrote during his schooling stint in Ateneo. This poem was written in honor of his mother’s birthday as evidenced by the terms “perfume of the flowers”, “the songs of the birds”, “feast your day of bloom” and “festive day”.

Jose Rizal’s poetic verses show his eternal love and appreciation for his mother. This is somehow his way of paying tribute to all the efforts of her dear mother.


POEMS WRITTEN IN ATENEO MUNICIPAL DE MANILA

From 1872 to 1877, Jose Rizal studied at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila for his Bachiller en artes. The first poems of Rizal dealt with history emphasizing on heroes and battles.


3. FELICITATION (Felicitacion, 1875)

If Philomela with harmonious tongue
To blond Apollo, who manifests his face
Behind high hill or overhanging mountain,
Canticles sends.

So we as well, full of a sweet contentment,
Salute you and your very noble saint
With tender music and fraternal measures,
Dear Antonino.

From all your sisters and your other kin
Receive most lovingly the loving accent
That the suave warmth of love dictates to them
Placid and tender.

From amorous wife and amiable Emilio
Sweetly receive an unsurpassed affection;
And may its sweetness in disaster soften
The ruder torments.

As the sea pilot, who so bravely fought
Tempestuous waters in the dark of night,
Gazes upon his darling vessel safe
And come to port.

So, setting aside all [worldly] predilections,
Now let your eyes be lifted heavenward
To him who is the solace of all men
And loving Father.

And from ourselves that in such loving accents
Salute you everywhere you celebrate,
These clamorous vivas that from the heart resound
Be pleased to accept.

The poem “Felicitation” was written by the Philippine National Hero in 1875 during his schooling in the Ateneo de Municipal. The 14 year old Rizal wrote this poem to congratulate his brother-in-law, Antonio Lopez (husband of his sister Narcisa), on Saint’s day.


4. THE EMBARKATION, a hymn to Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet (El Embarque: Himno a la Flota de Magallanes, 1875)

One beautiful day when in East
The sun had gaily brightened,
At Barrameda with rejoicing great
Activities everywhere reigned.

‘Tis cause on the shores the caravels
Would part with their sails a-swelling;
And noble warriors with their swords
To conquer unknown world are going.

And all is glee and all is joy,
All is valor in the city.
Everywhere the husky sounds of drums
Are resounding with majesty.

With big echoes thousands of salvos
Makes at the ships a roaring cannon
And the Spanish people proudly greet
The soldiers with affection.

Farewell! They say to them, loved ones,
Brave soldiers of the homeland;
With glories gird our mother Spain,
In the campaign in the unknown land!

As they move away to the gentle breath
Of the cool wind with emotion,
They all bless with a pious voice
So glorious, heroic action.
And finally, the people salute
The standard of Magellan
That he carries on the way to the seas
Where madly roars the hurricane.

Rizal wrote the above poem while he was a boarding student at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. It is believed to have been his first poem that had the honor of being read in a public programme held at that school. “Hymn to Magellanta’s fleet”talked about the departure of Ferdinand Magellan, the first man to colonize the Philippines.


5. AND HE IS SPANISH: ELCANO, THE FIRST TO CIRCUMNAVIGATE THE WORLD (Y Es Espanol: Elcano, el Primero en dar la Vuelta al Mundo, December 1875)

Where does that frail ship go
That proudly cruises on
And ploughs the distant seas
To seek the lands unknown?

Who's the brave and invincible,
That from far down the West
Sails on the expansive world
To yonder roseate East?

Of Spain he's a heroic son,
A Titan new of Pirene,
Who with fury fights against,
If it holds him, the hurricane.

He's Elcano who undertakes
A task that enchants the world ;
To accomplish it he vows
And its vastness him doesn't hold.

And to red-tailed eagle akin
That soars high in the wind
With an unequalled flight
And with a movement swift,

Of the blowing storm that roars,
He scorns the horrible hiss ;
And mocks with kingly air
The lightning's shattering noise.

And like a craggy rock
No impetuous ocean in rage
Or the fury of hurricanes
Him can change or disengage ;

Such is the invincible
Elcano, when cruising through
The waves, with his Spanish ships,
Their rage they might'ly subdue.

Triumphant crosses he
The vast roundness of the globe
With exceptional bravery
He measured the extensive orb.

A thousand laurels crown
Defender of Spain, your brow ;
 And a brilliant diadem
Now proudly decorates you.

The poem “AND  HE IS SPANISH: ELCANO, THE FIRST TO CIRCUMNAVIGATE THE WORLD”is about Juan Sebastián Elcano, a Spanish Basque, Ferdinand Magellan’s second in command, who upon Magellan’s death on the shores of Mactan in the Philippines, took over and completed the first circumnavigation of the world.
 

6.The Battle: Urbiztondo, Terror of Jolo (El Combate: Urbiztondo, Terror de Jolo, December 1875)

A hundred war-tried ships
At the mercy of the gentle wind,
Leave behind Manila bay
-The ruffled sea they plough.
A short while they descry
The Moros of Jolo
Who with pride they raise
A thousand waving flags.

And when the soldiers strong
Had alighted on the shores
And pointed all their guns
Against the enemy's wall,
With manly accent spoke
The general : "Soldiers of mine,
Upon your valor depends
The rich glory of victory.

"I would prefer to die
Rather than desist from attack ;
To thee the country entrusts
Her noble, sacred seals."
Said he ; and like Notus fierce
By horrid lightning hedged in
In furious tempests it sows
Sad weeping and mourning around ;
So Urbiztondo unsubdued
His soldiers following him,
He spreads death everywhere
With cold steel in his hand.

And like a lion in the woods
He roars, engendering fear,
As he looks upon the prey
That with havoc he devours;
So the noted fighting men
With fury and frenzied fright,
Approach the barricades
As they give a headlong assault.

And the Castiles' lion shakes
 His forelock wrathfully
And readies his pointed claws
To spread tears everywhere.

Eight bastions, do surrender
Of the Moros of Jolo
To the furious rattle of Mars
And Urbiztondo's assault.

Ah ! They're the ones, noble Spain,
Like Lepanto's heroes they are,
At Pavia they're the ones
Who're the thunderbolt of war.

The fire consumes and devours
The castles and palaces
And all the Joloans own
At our soldiers fierce attack.
Perfidious Mahumat flees,
Tyrannical and godless Sultan,
And the warriors valorous
March into Jolo as they sing.


The poem “The Battle: Urbiztondo, Terror of Jolo” is a reflection of Rizal’s liking for history. It was written to hail Urbiztondo for the successful battle against the Muslims. In the poem, the hero narrated how the great warrior defeated the Moros under Sultan Mahumat of Jolo.


7. THE TRAGEDY OF ST. EUSTACE (La Tragedia de San Eustaquio, June 1876)

            This poem recounts the tragic story of St. Eustace. However, it appears that the original manuscript of this no longer exists and may have been destroyed in the bombardment of the Second World War.  But it was said that it had been published in installments in a magazine, Cultura Social of Ateneo University.

 
8. IN MEMORY OF MY TOWN (Un Recuerdo A Mi Pueblo, 1876)

When I remember the days
that saw my early childhood
spent on the green shores
of a murmurous lagoon;
when I remember the coolness,
delicious and refreshing,
that on my face I felt
as I heard Favonius croon;

When I behold the white lily
swell to the wind’s impulsion,
and that tempestuous element
meekly asleep on the sand;
when I inhale the dear
intoxicating essence
the flowers exude when dawn
is smiling on the land;

Sadly, sadly I recall
your visage, precious childhood,
which an affectionate mother
made beautiful and bright;
I recall a simple town,
my comfort, joy and cradle,
beside a balmy lake,
the seat of my delight.

Ah, yes, my awkward foot
explored your sombre woodlands,
and on the banks of your rivers
in frolic I took part.
I prayed in your rustic temple,
a child, with a child’s devotion;
and your unsullied breeze
exhilarated my heart.

The Creator I saw in the grandeur
of your age-old forests;
upon your bosom, sorrows
were ever unknown to me;
while at your azure skies
I gazed, neither love nor tenderness
failed me, for in nature
lay my felicity.

Tender childhood, beautiful town,
rich fountain of rejoicing
and of harmonious music
that drove away all pain:
return to this heart of mine,
return my gracious hours,
return as the birds return
when flowers spring again!

But O goodbye! May the Spirit
of Good, a loving gift-giver,
keep watch eternally over
your peace, your joy, your sleep!
For you, my fervent pryers;
for you, my constant desire
to learn; and I pray heaven
your innocence to keep!


Rizal loved his hometown Calamba in Laguna. He fondly remembered his memories of the said town. In 1876, a 15 years old student in the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, he wrote the poem “In Memory of My Town”. The poem was written to express his love and appreciation for the place where he grew up.
 
9. INTIMATE ALLIANCE BETWEEN RELIGION AND GOOD EDUCATION (Alianza Intima Entre la Religion y la Buena Educacion, 1876)

As the climbing ivy over lefty elm
Creeps tortuously, together the adornment
Of the verdant plain, embellishing
Each other and together growing,
But should the kindly elm refuse its aid
The ivy would impotent and friendless wither
So is Education to Religion
By spiritual alliance bound.
Through Religion, Education gains renown, and
Woe to the impious mind that blindly spurning
The sapient teachings of Religion, this
Unpolluted fountain-head forsakes.

As the sprout, growing from the pompous vine,
Proudly offers us its honeyed clusters
While the generous and loving garment
Feeds its roots; so the fresh’ning waters
Of celestial virtue give new life
To Education true, shedding
On it warmth and light; because of them
The vine smells sweet and gives delicious fruit.

Without Religion, Human Education
Is like unto a vessel struck by winds
Which, sore beset, is of its helm deprived
By the roaring blows and buffets of the dread
Tempestuous Boreas, who fiercely wields
His power until he proudly sends her down
Into the deep abysses of the angered sea.

As the heaven’s dew the meadow feeds and strengthens
So that blooming flowers all the earth
Embroider in the days of spring; so also
If Religion holy nourishes
Education with its doctrines, she
Shall walk in joy and generosity
Toward the Good, and everywhere bestrew
The fragrant and luxuriant fruits of Virtue.


Jose Rizal believed that religion is concomitant with good education, hence the strong relationship between education and faith. Accordingly, he wrote the poem “Intimate Alliance between religion and good education” at the age of fifteen while he was in Ateneo.
 

10.EDUCATION GIVES LUSTER TO THE MOTHERLAND (Por la Educacion Recibe Lustre la Patria, 1876)

Wise education, vital breath
Inspires an enchanting virtue;
She puts the Country in the lofty seat
Of endless glory, of dazzling glow,
And just as the gentle aura's puff
Do brighten the perfumed flower's hue:
So education with a wise, guiding hand,
A benefactress, exalts the human band.

Man's placid repose and earthly life
To education he dedicates
Because of her, art and science are born
Man; and as from the high mount above
The pure rivulet flows, undulates,
So education beyond measure
Gives the Country tranquility secure.

Where wise education raises a throne
Sprightly youth are invigorated,
Who with firm stand error they subdue
And with noble ideas are exalted;
It breaks immortality's neck,
Contemptible crime before it is halted:
It humbles barbarous nations
And it makes of savages champions.
And like the spring that nourishes
The plants, the bushes of the meads,
She goes on spilling her placid wealth,
And with kind eagerness she constantly feeds,
The river banks through which she slips,
And to beautiful nature all she concedes,
So whoever procures education wise
Until the height of honor may rise.

From her lips the waters crystalline
Gush forth without end, of divine virtue,
And prudent doctrines of her faith
The forces weak of evil subdue,
That break apart like the whitish waves
That lash upon the motionless shoreline:
And to climb the heavenly ways the people
Do learn with her noble example.

In the wretched human beings' breast
The living flame of good she lights
The hands of criminal fierce she ties,
And fill the faithful hearts with delights,
Which seeks her secrets beneficent
And in the love for the good her breast she incites,
And it's th' education noble and pure
Of human life the balsam sure.

And like a rock that rises with pride
In the middle of the turbulent waves
When hurricane and fierce Notus roar
She disregards their fury and raves,
That weary of the horror great
So frightened calmly off they stave;
Such is one by wise education steered
He holds the Country's reins unconquered.
His achievements on sapphires are engraved;
The Country pays him a thousand honors;
For in the noble breasts of her sons
Virtue transplanted luxuriant flow'rs;
And in the love of good e'er disposed
Will see the lords and governors
The noble people with loyal venture
Christian education always procure.

And like the golden sun of the morn
Whose rays resplendent shedding gold,
And like fair aurora of gold and red
She overspreads her colors bold;
Such true education proudly gives
The pleasure of virtue to young and old
And she enlightens out Motherland dear
As she offers endless glow and luster.

Our national hero, despite his young age, had expressed high regards for education. He believed in the significant role which education plays in the progress and welfare of a nation as evident in his writing of the poem “Education Gives Luster to the Motherland”.

Education gives knowledge, knowledge gives wisdom. Great wisdom benefits everyone. Jose Rizal believed that education is a vehicle for a country’s prosperity and success, hence through the poem he encouraged Filipinos to acquire education for them to be able to fulfill their dreams and to improve their motherland. His high regards for education was evident in his determination to seek the best education possible even across the shores of his country.

 
11. The Captivity and the Triumph: Battle of Lucena and the Imprisonment of Boabdil(El Cautiverio y el Triunfo: Batalla de Lucena y Prision de Boabdil, December 1876)
           
The proud Abencérage provokes 
The soldiers brave of Castilla 
Ferociously to humble him
After he had destroyed Montilla.
 
The Count of Cabra soon arrives
In his strong arm he displays his saber,
Like Death that lugubriously unfolds
Her black wings of death and slaughter.
 
Toward the troops of an impious race
Like a lion he dashes eagerly ;
As the radiant sun to the new-born day 
With him goes Don Diego anxiously.
 
Thus like the fleeing fugitive stag
Evading the fleeting arrow
The haughty heart so filled with fright,
The Prophet's armies away go.
 
But not so the ferocious cavalry,
As shield its breast it exposes, 
With gallantry it awaits the fight
To attack with utter harshness.
 
Boabdil encourages his hordes
With wrath and savage fury :
His anguish on his face he shows
With grit to the fleeing men speaks he :
"To where art thou led, Oh, Trickless Moors, 
By the fear thee blinds and chases?
From whom do thee flee? With whom, hapless men, 
The stout heart to fight refuses?"
 
Said he ; and with menace the trumpet sounds ; 
Ours arrive and start the fighting,
And everywhere is heard alone
Of flashing steel the rattling.
 
Don Alonso Aguilar attacks
Them on one flank furious battle.
He wounds, beheads, devastates, and assaults 
As a wolf does, the timid cattle.
 
Alas! The Muslim, stubborn and cruel
Implores his Prophet vainly
While against the Christians noble and strong, 
The spear and the rein tightens he.
 
Amidst the fiery tumult of war
There did the commander brave die : 
Into pieces broken: helmets, spears, 
And horses on the ground lie.
 
His soldiers now terrified and tired
Flee before the Christian victors ; 
Just as away the timorous dear
Run as the lion brave roars.
 
When the King, abandoned, finds himself 
And seeing escape isn't too soon,
He gets down his horses terrified,
And hides in the woods like a poltroon.
 
Two unconquered Christians found him ;
And by royal symbols detected, 
Instantly to Don Diego him they took
Like a royal captive defeated.
 
There at Lucena the Christians' God
Humbled down the arrogant's power 
Who wanted to tie with a heavy chain
The Spaniard as downcast pris'ner.
        

At 12 years old, Rizal was believed to have read El ultimo Abencerraje, a Spanish translation of Chateaubriand's. novel, Le Dernier des Abencérages. This is the story of the last member of a famous family in the Muslim Kingdom of Granada in the 15th century which  inspired him to compose the above poem as a student at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila.

In this poem, he described the defeat and capture of Boabdil, last Moorish sultan of Granada.


12. TRIUMPHANT ENTRY OF THE CATHOLIC MONARCHS INTO GRANADA(Entrada triunfal de los Reyes Católicos en Granada, December 1876)

'Twas a quiet and gloomy night
Whose mem'ry hurts the heart,
A night ago in which the Muslim King
Treads the Alhambra's beautiful floor.
The face pale, loose his hair,
Tired eyes of frigid gaze,
Head low, recumbent his face,
The sad Muslim looks at his palaces.
The Muslim looks at them and abundant tears
Bathe his eyes, a-flowing down his cheeks,
And to the ceiling gilt and arabesque
He turns again his weary gaze.
Sand and tearful he remembers then
The Muslim exploits and the glorious jousts ;
And comparing the present ills
With the combats of past days,
"Goodbye, Alhambra," he says; "Alhambra, goodbye,
Abode of joy and abundant happiness ;
Goodbye, palace full of pleasures,
Inexhaustible fountain of delight.
Sad I leave you and now I'm going
To cruel exile, of hardships full,
In order not to see your towers high,
Your fountains clear and rich abodes."
He said ; and moaning the costly habiliments
Of the gilded apartments he removes ;
And of its beautiful decorations stripped
The huge halls, sad he withdraws,
And in the silence of the night

When the luckless Arabs were asleep,
When only the hissing of the winds
Through the peaceful city could be heard
And crossing the streets
Of that now forsaken realm,
Pale and petrified
Bathed in mortal sweat;
Only lamentations deep
Were heard everywhere,
And some doleful voice
Thrown in its wild complaint.

The king stopped; the towers he saw
He contemplated those walls;
The bottles remembered he
That he waged in happy times;
But he could not control himself
And he lowered his gazed to the ground
And mournfully said
As he bends his head:
"Alas! Granada what happened to you?
What became of your nights?
Alas! Where do your warriors sleep
That your anguish they don't see?
Indeed! I your unhappy King,
To the Libyan desert lands
Hurled and with chains
By fate I also go.
"Today I lose everything, everything,
Kingdom, palace, treasure
And so alone I sadly weep
What cruel grief prepares for me;
There was a time when your tow'rs
Preponderantly ruled
And they were the havoc and dread
Of squadrons in front."
He said and the squadrons he sees
Commanded by Talavera,
As he waves the flag
Of Christian religion;

That by royal order the forts
They were going to occupy
And to take possession of
The Alhambra and its rooms.

And to Fernando Talavera
Who rules the knights
With respect addresses himself
The unfortunate Boabdil ;
And in manner like this speaks to him
With mournful stress,
Into cruel anguish plunged
In a thousand anxieties submerged:

"Go my lord, go immediately
To take hold of those abodes
By the great Almighty reserved
For your powerful King;
Allah chastises the Moors;
Strip them of their property;
From their country he throws them out
For they did not keep his law."

He said no more ; on his way
The Mohammedan proceeds
And behind goes his faithful band
 In silence and with grief.
Aback they didn't turn their gaze
To contemplate their ground,
For affliction perhaps would strike
Them with greater vehemence.

And in the distance they see
The Christians' camp did show
Signs of contentment and joy
Upon seeing the celestial Cross
That on the Alhambra is displayed
When the city was overrun ;
And 'twas the primary sign
Of the race that was subdued.

And th' unhappy Monarch hears
The voice of "Long live Castille !"
And he sees on their knees

The Spanish Combatants;
And from the trumpets he hears
Triumphal harmonies.
And the brilliant helmets he sees
The bright sun shining on them.
His footsteps then he turns

Toward King Fernando
Who advances ordering
His troops with majesty;
And as he nears the King,
The Moor gives to him the keys,
The only treasure and sign
Of the Mohammedan pow'r.

"See there," Boabdil says to him,
What I can offer you,
And the only thing left to me,
Of the Arabic domain
My kingdom, trophies, men,
Fields, houses, victories,
Exalted honors, tow'rs
And gardens all, now are yours."

Boabdil thus did speak
And having paid his respect
From that place he withdraws
A thousand ills he saw
Continuing his slow pace
His warriors sending forth
A thousand doleful groans
As they leave the fair Genil.

Now, the warlike clarion
Of Fernando sounds th' entry
 In Granada lovely and fair,
Now Christian with no infidel;
The captives of the defeated Moor,
Who sadly were dragging chains
And suff'ring torments and pains
With joy came to Isabel.

Like long-suff'ring warriors brave
The clement King greets them,
His gladness showing on his face
'Cause from evil he saw them freed;
And the Queen abundant alms
Distributes with benevolent hand
That Queen who's always of God
Ought to wear immortal crown.

And as the Muslims hear
The cries of festivity,
Sonorous beating of drums,
And the singing of delight,
They lamented their fate,
The glory they have lost,
Their race that was subdued,
Their country without peer.

Their mournful groans
They carefully hide,
Their tearful pray'rs,
To be heard they fear
Would augment the pride
Of that victory
That causes their woe.

Now the flag of Spain
Proudly waves o'er the walls
Of noble Granada now secure !
Now the Catholic Kings
From their seat opulent
Will decree wise laws
For the children of Genil.

Now delightful Granada, proud
Is Christians' dwelling place
And Granada belongs
To the faithful populace.

Now from Heaven God looks down
With joy the beautiful tow'rs
And merlons all full
Of Trophies and laurel.


The above poem of Jose rizal relates the triumphant entry of Ferdinand and Isabella, Spain's "Most Catholic Kings," into the city of Granada in 1492. This entry is one of the most powerful symbolic moments in Spanish history.

 
13. THE HEROISM OF COLUMBUS (El Heroismo de Colon, 1877)

Oh tell me, celestial Muse, who in the mind
Of Columbus infused a breath sublime,
Invested with noble courage and faith,
To plough the seas of the West?
Who gave him brav’ry whem imposing
The sea was angered. The wind roared,
That in his rage the bad angel called
Against the son of faithful Spain?

In the midst of solemn tranquility
When languid earth was asleep,
And the moon its trembling disc
Through the diaphanous sky did steer,
A man contemplates the wavy sea…
Seen painted on his smiling face
So magnificent clemency’s pow’r
Exuding kindness and intelligence.

The curly whitish waves of the sea
That bathe the spreading shore,
Like silver reflect the white light
To the soft breath of perfumed breeze;
And while from the shadows strange
Around danced winged multitude,
An old man, furious, fierce and grave
Fantastic rose from the sea profound.

He hold firm in his strong right hand
A heavy trident aflame…

“And your audacious heart hopes to subdue
The fierce sea’s terrible rage
That when the fiery tempest roars
In mass it rises gloomy and grave?
Oh! Who could calmly contemplate
The iron cold of bloody fate,
That the roar of the wind which resounds
In the abyss a sad tomb opes?

“What lies beyond? Only death,
The dark sea that dreadfully terrifies
And infuses fear in the stoutest heart,
Where at each instant darkly appears
The tempest, with the mariner in doubt
How to guide his ship in such calamity;
And the waters bury him in the depth
Where a thousand horrible monsters hide.

“But, alas, poor you! Alas, unhappy Spain
If you run in search of land remote!
I will excite the north wind’s rage
And the hatred cruel of all that the ocean holds. . .
And ere you step on the foreign shores,
War and discord I’ll put within your ship;
And I’ll not rest until I see your ruin,
If divine protection saves you not…

“Hush, deceitful monster, with son’rous voice
Christopher answers him, ignorance….”

Jose Rizal wrote this epic poem in December 1877 during his academic years in Ateneo Municipal de Manila. This poem praises Columbus, the discoverer of America.

 
14. Columbus and John II (Colon y Juan II)

"Christopher, to you, fame,
And immortal crown and great renown 
Homage history pays !
Your august name reaches
Posterity and is amazed.
 
"Blesses you the world
In canticles of love and contentment
All that Lusitania
Holds proclaim instantly
Your faith's noble valor.
 
"Who, like you, is gentle,
Constant, resigned, and gen'rous? 
Conquered thou the dreadful
Fury of the wavy sea
And the cowardly, treach'rous mariner.
 
"Hail, illustrious Adm'ral, 
Firm of heart, fiery in the fight ; 
To your constant valor
Kindly today I offer
Castles and honors together.
"I, your voice I shall be
To proclaim before my standards 
Viceroy of good graces
And above the towers
I shall put your name in royal flags."
 
Thus did speak the sov'reign, 
Portugal's Juan the enlightened. 
Glory great beforehand
And the highest post in his palace 
Offers he the veteran.
 
But . . . hurriedly he flees
Columbusfrom the treach'rous deceiver 
Of the palace ambitious;
Runs he, flies to where dwells
Isabel the Christian, his benefactress.


This poem relates how King John II of Portugal missed fame and riches by his failure to finance the projected expedition of Columbus to the new world.
                               

15.  GREAT SOLACE IN GREAT MISFORTUNE (Gran Consuelo en la Mayor Desdicha, 1878)

This is a legend in verse of the tragic life of Columbus.

16. A FAREWELL DIALOGUE OF THE STUDENTS (Un Dialogo Alusive a la Despedida de los Colegiales)

            This was the last poem written by Rizal in Ateneo which again amazed his teachers. It is a poignant poem of farewell to his classmates, written just before he graduated from the Ateneo Muncipal de Manila.
 
17. CHILD JESUS (Al Nino Jesus, November 1875) A translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin

Why have you come to earth, 
Child-God, in a poor manger? 
Does Fortune find you a stranger 
from the moment of your birth? 

Alas, of heavenly stock 
now turned an earthly resident! 
Do you not wish to be president 
but the shepherd of your flock? 



During his student days, the 14 year old Jose Rizal wrote “Al Niño Jesus” (Child Jesus), a brief religious ode which expressed his devotion to Catholicism.
 

18. VIRGIN MARY (A La Virgen Maria, to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage)

Mary, sweet peace and dearest consolation 
of suffering mortal: you are the fount whence springs 
the current of solicitude that brings 
unto our soil unceasing fecundation. 

From your abode, enthroned on heaven's height, 
in mercy deign to hear my cry of woe 
and to the radiance of your mantle draw 
my voice that rises with so swift a flight. 

You are my mother, Mary, and shall be 
my life, my stronghold, my defense most thorough; 
and you shall be my guide on this wild sea. 

If vice pursues me madly on the morrow, 
if death harasses me with agony: 
come to my aid and dissipate my sorrow! 

The above undated poem was another religious writing Jose Rizal wrote in praise of the Virgin Mary, “A La Virgen Maria” (To the Virgin Mary).

 
19. TO THE PHILIPPINE YOUTH (A la Juventud Filipina, November 1879) A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin

Hold high the brow serene,
O youth, where now you stand;
Let the bright sheen
Of your grace be seen,
Fair hope of my fatherland!

Come now, thou genius grand,
And bring down inspiration;
With thy mighty hand,
Swifter than the wind's violation,
Raise the eager mind to higher station.

Come down with pleasing light
Of art and science to the fight,
O youth, and there untie
The chains that heavy lie,
Your spirit free to blight.

See how in flaming zone
Amid the shadows thrown,
The Spaniard'a holy hand
A crown's resplendent band
Proffers to this Indian land.

Thou, who now wouldst rise
On wings of rich emprise,
Seeking from Olympian skies
Songs of sweetest strain,
Softer than ambrosial rain;

Thou, whose voice divine
Rivals Philomel's refrain
And with varied line
Through the night benign
Frees mortality from pain;

Thou, who by sharp strife
Wakest thy mind to life ;
And the memory bright
Of thy genius' light
Makest immortal in its strength ;

And thou, in accents clear
Of Phoebus, to Apelles dear ;
Or by the brush's magic art
Takest from nature's store a part,
To fig it on the simple canvas' length ;

Go forth, and then the sacred fire
Of thy genius to the laurel may aspire ;
To spread around the fame,
And in victory acclaim,
Through wider spheres the human name.

Day, O happy day,
Fair Filipinas, for thy land!
So bless the Power to-day
That places in thy way
This favor and this fortune grand !

To the Philippine Youth
Unfold, oh timid flower!

Lift up your radiant brow,
This day, Youth of my native strand!
Your abounding talents show
Resplendently and grand,
Fair hope of my Motherland!

Soar high, oh genius great,
And with noble thoughts fill their mind;
The honor's glorious seat,
May their virgin mind fly and find
More rapidly than the wind.

Descend with the pleasing light
Of the arts and sciences to the plain,
Oh Youth, and break forthright
The links of the heavy chain
That your poetic genius enchain.

See that in the ardent zone,
The Spaniard, where shadows stand,
Doth offer a shining crown,
With wise and merciful hand
To the son of this Indian land.

You, who heavenward rise
On wings of your rich fantasy,
Seek in the Olympian skies
The tenderest poesy,
More sweet than divine honey;

You of heavenly harmony,
On a calm unperturbed night,
Philomel's match in melody,
That in varied symphony
Dissipate man's sorrow's blight;

You at th' impulse of your mind
The hard rock animate
And your mind with great pow'r consigned
Transformed into immortal state
The pure mem'ry of genius great;

And you, who with magic brush
On canvas plain capture
The varied charm of Phoebus,
Loved by the divine Apelles,
And the mantle of Nature;

Run ! For genius' sacred flame
Awaits the artist's crowning
Spreading far and wide the fame
Throughout the sphere proclaiming
With trumpet the mortal's name
Oh, joyful, joyful day,
The Almighty blessed be
Who, with loving eagerness
Sends you luck and happiness.


The above is a winning poem in 1879 submitted to the literary contest held by the Liceo Artistico-Literario (Artistic-Literary Lyceum) of Manila--a society of literary men and artists. The inspiring poem written by Jose Rizal at the age of eighteen was said to be of flawless form which aimed to implore the Filipinos to rise from indolence. It is said to be a classical piece of Philippine literature for reasons that (1) Spanish literary authorities recognize it as an impressive poem written in Spanish by a Filipino and (2) it was the foremost literary piece to display the nationalistic belief that Filipinos were the “fair hope of the Fatherland”

However, the poem hinted rebellion for the Spaniards. According to Bantug, one newspaper writer even said that the poet-doctor “had better devote his time to his doctoring than to his rhyming”.
 

20. ABD-EL-AZIS AND MOHAMMED (ABD-EL-AZIS Y MAHOMA, December 1879)

It was night: the moaning wind
Sighs as it kisses the towers tall
And on its wings carries mournfully
Thousands of confused noises agitating the space.
 
Aweful clouds bedim the peace
Of the dark night's beautiful star,
And a soft tint like a mantle of snow 
Covers the fields that the Spaniard treads.
 
There, from the tall Moorish tow'r 
Sings the owl on th' imposing peak, 
Numberless evils and bloody fights 
With fatidical accent foretells.
 
In the meanwhile on the soft bed
That the luxurious Moor makes of ivory,
Rest doth seek the weary, brave Abd-El-Azis, 
Pleasant relief from the bygone" day.
 
Th' incense mild in silver tripods 
That th' Arabian bark distills,
Burns and spreads intoxicating scent, 
Of the sumptuous chamber soft delight.
 
Everything is silent : everyone sleeps ; 
Only the sorrowful Moor keeps guard, 
Contemplates the light that sadly 
Penetrates through th' elegant arch.
 
But so sudden he beholds outlined
Dubious shadow that in the gentle light 
Agitates him for a time, and his sullen face 
Masculine contour acquires.
 
With a white turban covered in his head, 
Animates his countenance a lengthy beard, 
From his belt a curved cutlass hangs 
Horribly dripping with ardent blood.
 
Like the mournful sound of hollow bronze 
That deplores the agony of man,
Thus the sepulchral silence his voice 
Ruffles, and the fatidical vision the Moor.
 
"Alas ! Alas ! It tells him, and resounded profound 
Th' echo of his voice calm and cold,
Terrible echo that touches the soul,
Like the remembrance of a friendly voice.
 
"Alas, poor me ! Pity the nation brave 
That the sandy Lybia saw on her breast ! 
Alas, poor Koran, sacred patrimony
That to the Muslim Allah once bequeathed !
 
Vainly did you conquer the flags
Of the Pow'rful Christian of Guadalete 
On the green banks, for again
Raises he rebellious his captive head.
 
Pelayo, the great Pelayo, the noble Goth, 
The illustrious son of fierce Favila,
On the hard rocks of Covadonga
Fights the forces of the Moor.
 
The Cross, the Cross, insignia idolized, 
Follows its army that to conquer aspires: 
Mary goes with them with her cloak 
Shelters she with love the bodies weak.
 
But don't fear, for triumphant ever be 
Will the Muslim in the combat crude,
And of no avail her protection would be
For only God helps the faithful with his arm.
 
But alas! If you sleep in the arms of delight 
And my heavenly precepts you ignore
The throne that sustained Tarif will fall 
To the rough blow of the sword profane
 
Like the overflowing river your blood 
Will inundate the vales and fields 
And the flourishing Iberia's ground 
Th' Arab's cold tomb will become ;
 
And in numberless battles in eternal war,
Into your breasts will plunge
The proud Spaniard's knife, and the vile dust 
Like the accursed .serpent you'll bite ;
 
And you'll yield the ground inch by inch 
Fertilized by your blessed blood ;
The weak women and children slaves will be
In their sad affliction ;
 
Hurled again to the desert cruel,
Bitter tears for peace that was lost
You will shed, and in shameful torment 
You will count the days of your return.
 
And rejoicing proudly at your distress
In their perfidy A thousand ships will arm, 
And the beautiful ground where I rest in peace 
They will threaten with fury never seen.
 
Arm yourself ! Run ! Quickly fly ! 
Cast your veteran army with the fight
And to the wind let the son'rous trumpet release 
Warlike accent, to glory a toast.
 
Trembles the ground beneath the saddle light 
Of the fiery steed that Arabia breeds
And like showy murex in burning red
Infidel blood tints your scimitar.
 
Before the Moon that my insignia displays 
Make the Cross its fortress yield,
And forever victorious may they shine 
The beneficent doctrines of the Koran."
 
Said he ; and like a lightly rising smoke 
That a strong wind rapidly dissipates, 
Thus disappeared the terrible fright
That the vision divine caused the Moor.
 
This epic poem was written by Jose Rizal in 1879 and declaimed by Manuel Fernandez  on the night of December 8, 1879 in honor of the Ateneo’s Patroness.
It recalls the struggle between the Spaniards and the Moors in Spain.
 
 
21. To The Philippines, February 1880
A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin

Warm and beautiful like a houri of yore, 
as gracious and as pure as the break of dawn 
when darling clouds take on a sapphire tone, 
sleeps a goddess on the Indian shore. 

The small waves of the sonorous sea assail 
her feet with ardent, amorous kisses, while 
the intellectual West adores her smile; 
and the old hoary Pole, her flower veil. 

My Muse, most enthusiastic and elate, 
sings to her among naiads and undines; 
I offer her my fortune and my fate. 

With myrtle, purple roses, and flowering greens 
and lilies, crown her brow immaculate, 
O artists, and exalt the Philippines! 


This poem was written by Jose Rizal to serve as a reminder for Filipinos to love their motherland.
 

22. Al M.R.P. PABLO RAMON, 1881

Sweet is the breeze that at the break of dawn
The calyx of fragrant flowers shakes,
Alluring odors soft they spread
O'er the countryside ;

The placid murmur is sweet and soft
Of the gentle rivulet that with joy
Throws silv'ry foam on sands of gold
And drops of water white ;

Sweet are the trills of musical birds
Soft is th' aroma of motley flow'rs
And the perfumes of th' aurora white
Mellow and sweet;

But your name, oh, Father idolized,
 Instills the purest joy in our breast,
Whence it diffuses most mellow rays
Of eternal glow.

The Almighty's hand affectionate
You show us, Father, whose love sincere
Throughout the bitter road of life
Does guide us with love.

Alas! What will become of youthful toil
That restlessly burns in our breast,
Without the guidance or your kind hand,
Your love, your zeal?

We're, Father, your sons; you do guide us
To the homes of eternal happiness.
The mind will not be disturbed by fright
With a pilot like you.

The great Apostle whose name you bear,
Whose footsteps with enthusiasm you trail,
With heavenly favor shower you,
A sacred treasure.


Jose Rizal truly loved his alma mater Ateneo as well as his professors. He wrote a poem for one of them, Al M.R.P. Pablo Ramon, a lovely tribute to the Very Reverend Pablo Ramon, Rector of the Ateneo. The poem was written on the occasion of that good Father’s birthday. Reverend Father Pablo Ramon had been so kind and helpful to the national hero.
 

23. GOODBYE TO LEONOR, 1882 (A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin)

And so it has arrived -- the fatal instant,
the dismal injunction of my cruel fate;
so it has come at last -- the moment, the date,
when I must separate myself from you.

Goodbye, Leonor, goodbye! I take my leave,
leaving behind with you my lover's heart!
Goodbye, Leonor: from here I now depart.
O Melancholy absence! Ah, what pain!

Leonor was only 13 years of age when she met Jose Rizal in Dagupan. Due to the strong disapproval of Leonor’s parents of their love affair, they kept in touch by sending letters and photographs of each other. Their relationship lasted for over a decade. However, the marriage of Leonor to Henry Kipping brought great sadness to Rizal. Hence, the creation of this sorrowful poem for his lady love.

 
24.   They Ask Me for Verses (Me Piden Versos, October 1882) A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin

I
They bid me strike the lyre
so long now mute and broken,
but not a note can I waken
nor will my muse inspire!
She stammers coldly and babbles
when tortured by my mind;
she lies when she laughs and thrills
as she lies in her lamentation,
for in my sad isolation
my soul nor frolics nor feels.

II
There was a time, 'tis true,
but now that time has vanished
when indulgent love or friendship
called me a poet too.
Now of that time there lingers
hardly a memory,
as from a celebration
some mysterious refrain
that haunts the ears will remain
of the orchestra's actuation.

III
A scarce-grown plant I seem,
uprooted from the Orient,
where perfume is the atmosphere
and where life is a dream.
O land that is never forgotten!
And these have taught me to sing:
the birds with their melody,
the cataracts with their force
and, on the swollen shores,
the murmuring of the sea.

IV
While in my childhood days
I could smile upon her sunshine,
I felt in my bosom, seething,
a fierce volcano ablaze.
A poet was I, for I wanted
with my verses, with my breath,
to say to the swift wind: "Fly
and propagate her renown!
Praise her from zone to zone,
from the earth up to the sky!"

V
I left her! My native hearth,
a tree despoiled and shriveled,
no longer repeats the echo
of my old songs of mirth.
I sailed across the vast ocean,
craving to change my fate,
not noting, in my madness,
that, instead of the weal I sought,
the sea around me wrought
the spectre of death and sadness.

VI
The dreams of younger hours,
love, enthusiasm, desire,
have been left there under the skies
of that fair land of flowers.
Oh, do not ask of my heart
that languishes, songs of love!
For, as without peace I tread
this desert of no surprises,
I feel that my soul agonizes
and that my spirit is dead.

Rizal had been a member of Circulo Hispano-Filipino (Hispano-Philippine Circle), a society of Spaniards and Filipinos in Madrid. In the New Year’s Eve reception of the Madrid Filipinos held in 1882, he declaimed his written “Me Piden Versos”, a poem he wrote due to the request of the society’s members. In March 31, 1889, this poem was published in the La Solidaridad.
           

25.      To Miss C.O. y R., 1883
A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin

Why ask for those unintellectual verses
that once, insane with grief, I sang aghast?
Or are you maybe throwing in my face
my rank ingratitude, my bitter past?

Why resurrect unhappy memories
now when the heart awaits from love a sign,
or call the night when day begins to smile,
not knowing if another day will shine?

You wish to learn the cause of this dejection
delirium of despair that anguish wove?
You wish to know the wherefore of such sorrows,
and why, a young soul, I sing not of love?

Oh, may you never know why! For the reason
brings melancholy but may set you laughing.
Down with my corpse into the grave shall go
another corpse that's buried in my stuffing!

Something impossible, ambition, madness,
dreams of the soul, a passion and its throes 
Oh, drink the nectar that life has to offer
and let the bitter dregs in peace repose!

Again I feel the impenetrable shadows
shrouding the soul with the thick veils of night:
a mere bud only, not a lovely flower,
because it's destitute of air and light 

Behold them: my poor verses, my damned brood
and sorrow suckled each and every brat!
Oh, they know well to what they owe their being,
and maybe they themselves will tell you what.

Jose Rizal, though not really a handsome man in today’s perspective, attracts ladies easily. Perhaps his exceptional talents and charisma made him attractive to women. Furthermore, his gift of poetry made him even more likable. He composed a poem entitled “To Miss C.O. y R” to express his admiration to Consuelo Ortiga y Perez, the beautiful daughter of Don Pablo Ortiga y Rey. Nevertheless, he did not pursue his feelings for her due to the fact that he was still engaged to Leonor Rivera then and his friend, Eduardo de Lete also had feelings for Consuelo.

 
26. THE FLOWERS OF HEIDELBERG (A los Flores de Heidelberg , April 1886) A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin


Go to my country, go, O foreign flowers,
sown by the traveler along the road,
and under that blue heaven
that watches over my loved ones,
recount the devotion
the pilgrim nurses for his native sod!
Go and say  say that when dawn
opened your chalices for the first time
beside the icy Neckar,
you saw him silent beside you,
thinking of her constant vernal clime.

Say that when dawn
which steals your aroma
was whispering playful love songs to your young
sweet petals, he, too, murmured
canticles of love in his native tongue;
that in the morning when the sun first traces
the topmost peak of Koenigssthul in gold
and with a mild warmth raises
to life again the valley, the glade, the forest,
he hails that sun, still in its dawning,
that in his country in full zenith blazes.

And tell of that day
when he collected you along the way
among the ruins of a feudal castle,
on the banks of the Neckar, or in a forest nook.
Recount the words he said
as, with great care,
between the pages of a worn-out book
he pressed the flexible petals that he took.

Carry, carry, O flowers,
my love to my loved ones,
peace to my country and its fecund loam,
faith to its men and virtue to its women,
health to the gracious beings
that dwell within the sacred paternal home.

When you reach that shore,
deposit the kiss I gave you
on the wings of the wind above
that with the wind it may rove
and I may kiss all that I worship, honor and love!

But O you will arrive there, flowers,
and you will keep perhaps your vivid hues;
but far from your native heroic earth
to which you owe your life and worth,
your fragrances you will lose!
For fragrance is a spirit that never can forsake
and never forgets the sky that saw its birth.


At some time in his life, Jose Rizal stayed in Heidelberg, a city in the state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany. In 1887, the 25-year old Rizal completed his eye specialization under the renowned Prof. Otto Becker in the University of Heidelberg.  In spring, flowers bloom along the banks of Neckar River. Rizal admired particulary the light blue spring flower “forget-me-not”. These beautiful flowers made him think of their flowers in Calamba. Amid his homesickness of his hometown in the spring of 1886, he came up with a nice poem “A Las Flores de Heidelberg” (To the Flowers of Heidelberg) which expresses prayer for the wellbeing of his native land.


27. THE SONG OF MARIA CLARA, 1887
(A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin)

Sweet the hours in the native country,
where friendly shines the sun above!
Life is the breeze that sweeps the meadows;
tranquil is death; most tender, love.

Warm kisses on the lips are playing
as we awake to mother's face:
the arms are seeking to embrace her,
the eyes are smiling as they gaze.

How sweet to die for the native country,
where friendly shines the sun above!
Death is the breeze for him who has
no country, no mother, and no love!


This poem forms part of the Jose Rizal’s infamous novel, Noli Me Tangere. In the novel, one of the main characters, Maria, upon the insistent requests of her friends, rendered a beautiful song with the accompaniment of the harp.

 
28. Hymn to Labor, 1888
(A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin)

CHORUS:

For the Motherland in war,
For the Motherland in peace,
Will the Filipino keep watch,
He will live until life will cease!

MEN:
Now the East is glowing with light,
Go! To the field to till the land,
For the labour of man sustains
Fam'ly, home and Motherland.
Hard the land may turn to be,
Scorching the rays of the sun above...
For the country, wife and children
All will be easy to our love.

(Chorus)

WIVES:
Go to work with spirits high,
For the wife keeps home faithfully,
Inculcates love in her children
For virtue, knowledge and country.
When the evening brings repose,
On returning joy awaits you,
And if fate is adverse, the wife,
Shall know the task to continue.

(Chorus)

MAIDENS:
Hail! Hail! Praise to labour,
Of the country wealth and vigor!
For it brow serene's exalted,
It's her blood, life, and ardor.
If some youth would show his love
Labor his faith will sustain :
Only a man who struggles and works
Will his offspring know to maintain.

(Chorus)

CHILDREN:
Teach, us ye the laborious work
To pursue your footsteps we wish,
For tomorrow when country calls us
We may be able your task to finish.
And on seeing us the elders will say :
"Look, they're worthy 'f their sires of yore!"
Incense does not honor the dead
As does a son with glory and valor.

Jose Rizal wrote the poem “Himno Al Trabajo” before he left Calamba in 1888. This poem is in response to the request of his friends from Lipa, Batangas. They wanted a hymn to commemorate the elevation of Lipa from a town to a city in January 1888. Dedicated to the industrious folks of Lipa, the poem consisted of lyrical conversations of men, wives, maidens and children.

29. TO MY MUSE (A Mi, 1890, incl. in La Solidaridad)
(A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin)

No more is the muse invoked;
the lyre is out of fashion;
no poet cares to use it;
by other things are the dreamy
young inspired to passion.

Now if imagination
demands some poesies,
no Helicon is invoked;
one simply asks the garçon
for a cup of coffee please.

Instead of tender stanzas
that move the heart’s sympathy,
one now writes a poem
with a pen of steel,
a joke and an irony.

Muse that in the past
inspired me to sing of the throes
of love: go and repose.
What I need is a sword,
rivers of gold, and acrid prose.

I have a need to reason,
to meditate, to offer
combat, sometimes to weep;
for he who would love much
has also much to suffer.

Gone are the days of peace,
the days of love’s gay chorus,
when the flowers were enough
to alleviate the soul
of its sufferings and sorrows.

One by one from my side
go those I loved so much:
this one dead, that one married;
for fate seals with disaster
everything that I touch.

Flee also, muse! Go forth
and seek a region more fine,
for my country vows to give you
fetters for your laurels,
a dark jail for your shrine.

If to suppress the truth
be a shame, an impiety,
would it not then be madness
to keep you by my side
deprived of liberty?

Why sing when destiny calls
to serious meditation,
when a hurricane is roaring,
when to her sons complains
the Filipino nation?

And why sing if my song
will merely resound with a moaning
that will arouse no one,
the world being sick and tired
of someone else’s groaning?

For what, when among the people
who criticize and maltreat me,
arid the soul, the lips frigid,
there’s not a heart that beats
with mine, no heart to meet me?

Let sleep in the depths of oblivion
all that I feel, for there
it well should be, where the breath
cannot mix it with a rhyme
that evaporates in the air.

As sleep in the deep abyss
the monsters of the sea,
so let my tribulations,
my fancies and my lyrics
slumber, buried in me.

I know well that your favors
you lavish without measure
only during that time
of flowers and first loves
unclouded by displeasure.

Many years have passed
since with the ardent heat
of a kiss you burned my brow
That kiss has now turned cold,
I have even forgotten it!

But, before departing, say
that to your sublime address
ever responded in me
a song for those who grieve
and a challenge for those who oppress.

But, sacred imagination, once again
to warm my fantasy you will come nigh
when, faith being faded, broken the sword,
I cannot for my country die.

You’ll give me the mourning zither whose
chords vibrate with elegiac strains
to sweeten the sorrows of my nation
and muffle the clanking of her chains.

But if with laurel triumph crowns
our efforts, and my country, united,
like a queen of the East arises,
a white pearl rescued from the sty:
return then and intone with vigor
the sacred hymn of a new existence,
and we shall sing that strain in chorus “
though in the sepulcher we lie.


It was against a background of mental anguish in Brussels, during those sad days when he was worried by family disasters, Rizal wrote his pathetic poem, “A Mi…”(To my Muse).

 
30.KUNDIMAN, 1891
Translation from Zaide

Now mute indeed are tongue and heart:
love shies away, joy stands apart.
Neglected by its leaders and defeated,
the country was subdued and it submitted.

But O the sun will shine again!
Itself the land shall disenchain;
and once more round the world with growing praise
shall sound the name of the Tagalog race.

We shall pour out our blood in a great flood
to liberate the parent sod;
but till that day arrives for which we weep,
love shall be mute, desire shall sleep.


The word “kundiman” connotes a traditional Filipino love song usually used by a man to serenade a woman being wooed. The above “Kundiman” is a poem written by Jose Rizal to express his intense love for his motherland. In the verses, we can see that Rizal is optimistic that the Philippines will be freed from inequality and oppression.


31. WATER AND FIRE (EL AGUA Y EL FUEGO, 1891)
     
Water are we, you say, and yourselves fire,
so let us be what we are
and co-exist without ire,
and may no conflagration ever find us at war.

but, rather, fused together by cunning science
within the cauldrons of the ardent breast,
without rage, without defiance,
do we form steam, fifth element indeed:
progress, life, enlightenment, and speed!

This is a very short composition excerpt from the novel El Filibusterismo, Chapter El Cubierta. In this poem, Jose Rizal expressed his great dream for the Philippines: its freedom and advancement.


32. SONG OF THE WANDERER/TRAVELER(EL CANTO DEL VIAJERO, 1895)

Dry leaf that flies at random
till it's seized by a wind from above:
so lives on earth the wanderer,
without north, without soul, without country or love!

Anxious, he seeks joy everywhere
and joy eludes him and flees,
a vain shadow that mocks his yearning
and for which he sails the seas.

Impelled by a hand invisible,
he shall wander from place to place;
memories shall keep him company
of loved ones, of happy days.

A tomb perhaps in the desert,
a sweet refuge, he shall discover,
by his country and the world forgotten
Rest quiet: the torment is over.

And they envy the hapless wanderer
as across the earth he persists!
Ah, they know not of the emptiness
in his soul, where no love exists.

The pilgrim shall return to his country,
shall return perhaps to his shore;
and shall find only ice and ruin,
perished loves, and gravesnothing more.

Begone, wanderer! In your own country,
a stranger now and alone!
Let the others sing of loving,
who are happybut you, begone!

Begone, wanderer! Look not behind you
nor grieve as you leave again.
Begone, wanderer: stifle your sorrows!
the world laughs at another's pain.


There came a time in Cuba where there was a raging yellow fever epidemic and they got short of physicians to attend to the needs of the Cuban people. Rizal’s friend, Blumentritt advised Jose Rizal who was then in exile in Dapitan, to offer his services as a military doctor in Cuba.

A letter from Governor Ramon Blanco notified him that his offer was accepted. Aside from the fact that his humanitarian offer was granted, he will also be able to travel to Europe and then to Cuba. His delight in the receiving the news led him in writing his “El Canto del Viajero” (The Song of the Traveler/Wanderer)
 

33. TO JOSEPHINE, 1895

Josephine, Josephine
Who to these shores have come
Looking for a nest, a home,
Like a wandering swallow;
If your fate is taking you
To Japan, China or Shanghai,
Don't forget that on these shores
A heart for you beats high.


Rizal dedicated this poem to an Irish woman, Josephine Bracken, whom we called his “dulce extranjera”(sweet foreigner). The poem somehow manifests that Rizal is “smitten” with Josephine.

When Josephine was eighteen years of age, she visited Manila for the purpose of seeing Dr. Jose Rizal to accompany her adoptive father for an eye operation. Then, she developed affection towards Dr. Rizal despite her stepfather’s objection. Despite several lady loves in the past, Josephine alone was the one Dr. Jose Rizal sought for marriage.

Josephine prematurely gave birth to an eight-month baby boy, who existed only for hours. Rizal’s lost son was named “Francisco” in honor of the hero’s father, Don Francisco.

 
34. HYMN TO TALISAY, October 1895
           
Hail, Talisay,
firm and faithful,
ever forward
march elate!

You, victorious,
the elements
land, sea and air
shall dominate!

The sandy beach of Dapitan
and the rocks of its lofty mountain
are your throne. O sacred asylum
where I passed my childhood days!

In your valley covered with flowers
and shaded by fruitful orchards,
our minds received their formation,
both body and soul, by your grace.

We are children, children born late,
but our spirits are fresh and healthy;
strong men shall we be tomorrow
that can guard a family right.

We are children that nothing frightens,
not the waves, nor the storm, nor the thunder;
the arm ready, the young face tranquil,
in a fix we shall know how to fight.

We ransack the sand in our frolic;
through the caves and the thickets we ramble;
our houses are built upon rocks;
our arms reach far and wide.

No darkness, and no dark night,
that we fear, no savage tempest;
if the devil himself comes forward,
we shall catch him, dead or alive!

Talisayon, the people call us:
a great soul in a little body;
in Dapitan and all its region
Talisay has no match!

Our reservoir is unequalled;
our precipice is a deep chasm;
and when we go rowing, our bancas
no banca in the world can catch!

We study the problems of science
and the history of the nation.
We speak some three or four languages;
faith and reason we span.

Our hands can wield at the same time
the knife, the pen and the spade,
the picket, the rifle, the sword
companions of a brave man.

Long live luxuriant Talisay!
Our voices exalt you in chorus,
clear star, dear treasure of childhood,
a childhood you guide and please.

In the struggles that await the grown man,
subject to pain and sorrow,
your memory shall be his amulet;


Rizal conducted his school at his home in Talisay, near Dapitan, where he had his farm and hospital. He frequently met with his boys underneath a talisay tree. A poem entitled “In honor of Talisay”, was written for his pupils to sing, that they know how to fight for their rights. The poem speaks about the place Talisay and how Rizal obtained a serene life in exile.


35. MY RETREAT (Mi Retiro, 1895)
(A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin)

Beside a spacious beach of fine and delicate sand
and at the foot of a mountain greener than a leaf,
I planted my humble hut beneath a pleasant orchard,
seeking in the still serenity of the woods
repose to my intellect and silence to my grief.

Its roof is fragile nipa; its floor is brittle bamboo;
its beams and posts are rough as rough-hewn wood can be;
of no worth, it is certain, is my rustic cabin;
but on the lap of the eternal mount it slumbers
and night and day is lulled by the crooning of the sea.

The overflowing brook, that from the shadowy jungle
descends between huge bowlders, washes it with its spray,
donating a current of water through makeshift bamboo pipes
that in the silent night is melody and music
and crystalline nectar in the noon heat of the day.

If the sky is serene, meekly flows the spring,
strumming on its invisible zither unceasingly;
but come the time of the rains, and an impetuous torrent
spills over rocks and chasms hoarse, foaming and aboil
to hurl itself with a frenzied roaring toward the sea.

The barking of the dog, the twittering of the birds,
the hoarse voice of the kalaw are all that I hear;
there is no boastful man, no nuisance of a neighbor
to impose himself on my mind or to disturb my passage;
only the forests and the sea do I have near.

The sea, the sea is everything! Its sovereign mass
brings to me atoms of a myriad faraway lands;
its bright smile animates me in the limpid mornings;
and when at the end of day my faith has proven futile,
my heart echoes the sound of its sorrow on the sands.

At night it is a mystery!  Its diaphanous element
is carpeted with thousands and thousands of lights that climb;
the wandering breeze is cool, the firmament is brilliant,
the waves narrate with many a sigh to the mild wind
histories that were lost in the dark night of time.

‘Tis said they tell of the first morning on the earth,
of the first kiss with which the sun inflamed her breast,
when multitudes of beings materialized from nothing
to populate the abyss and the overhanging summits
and all the places where that quickening kiss was pressed.

But when the winds rage in the darkness of the night
and the unquiet waves commence their agony,
across the air move cries that terrify the spirit,
a chorus of voices praying, a lamentation that seems
to come from those who, long ago, drowned in the sea.

Then do the mountain ranges on high reverberate;
the trees stir far and wide, by a fit of trembling seized;
the cattle moan; the dark depths of the forest resound;
their spirits say that they are on their way to the plain,
summoned by the dead to a mortuary feast.

The wild night hisses, hisses, confused and terrifying;
one sees the sea afire with flames of green and blue;
but calm is re-established with the approach of dawning
and forthwith an intrepid little fishing vessel
begins to navigate the weary waves anew.

So pass the days of my life in my obscure retreat;
cast out of the world where once I dwelt: such is my rare
good fortune; and Providence be praised for my condition:
a disregarded pebble that craves nothing but moss
to hide from all the treasure that in myself I bear.

I live with the remembrance of those that I have loved
and hear their names still spoken, who haunt my memory;
some already are dead, others have long forgotten
but what does it matter? I live remembering the past
and no one can ever take the past away from me.

It is my faithful friend that never turns against me,
that cheers my spirit when my spirit’s a lonesome wraith,
that in my sleepless nights keeps watch with me and prays
with me, and shares with me my exile and my cabin,
and, when all doubt, alone infuses me with faith.

Faith do I have, and I believe the day will shine
when the Idea shall defeat brute force as well;
and after the struggle and the lingering agony
a voice more eloquent and happier than my own
will then know how to utter victory’s canticle.

I see the heavens shining, as flawless and refulgent
as in the days that saw my first illusions start;
I feel the same breeze kissing my autumnal brow,
the same that once enkindled my fervent enthusiasm
and turned the blood ebullient within my youthful heart.

Across the fields and rivers of my native town
perhaps has travelled the breeze that now I breathe by chance;
perhaps it will give back to me what once I gave it:
the sighs and kisses of a person idolized
and the sweet secrets of a virginal romance.

On seeing the same moon, as silvery as before,
I feel within me the ancient melancholy revive;
a thousand memories of love and vows awaken:
a patio, an azotea, a beach, a leafy bower;
silences and sighs, and blushes of delight

A butterfly athirst for radiances and colors,
dreaming of other skies and of a larger strife,
I left, scarcely a youth, my land and my affections,
and vagrant eveywhere, with no qualms, with no terrors,
squandered in foreign lands the April of my life.

And afterwards, when I desired, a weary swallow,
to go back to the nest of those for whom I care,
suddenly fiercely roared a violent hurricane
and I found my wings broken, my dwelling place demolished,
faith now sold to others, and ruins everywhere.

Hurled upon a rock of the country I adore;
the future ruined; no home, no health to bring me cheer;
you come to me anew, dreams of rose and gold,
of my entire existence the solitary treasure,
convictions of a youth that was healthy and sincere.

No more are you, like once, full of fire and life,
offering a thousand crowns to immortality;
somewhat serious I find you; and yet your face beloved,
if now no longer as merry, if now no longer as vivid,
now bear the superscription of fidelity.

You offer me, O illusions, the cup of consolation;
you come to reawaken the years of youthful mirth;
hurricane, I thank you; winds of heaven, I thank you
that in good hour suspended by uncertain flight
to bring me down to the bosom of my native earth.

Beside a spacious beach of fine and delicate sand
and at the foot of a mountain greener than a leaf,
I found in my land a refuge under a pleasant orchard,
and in its shadowy forests, serene tranquility,
repose to my intellect and silence to my grief.


Upon the request of Dona Teodora, Dr. Jose Rizal came up with a beautiful poem vis-à-vis his tranquil life in Dapitan. The poem, which was entitled “Mi Retiro” (My Retreat) was sent to his mother in 1895.  It was commended by the critics as one of the best of his literary creations.

In the poem, he gave a narrative account of his peaceful life while exiled in Dapitan--where he lived a well-rounded life as a farmer, teacher, and a merchant. 


36. MY LAST FAREWELL (Mi Ultimo Adios, December 1896)
            
Farewell, beloved Country, treasured region of the sun,
Pearl of the sea of the Orient, our vanquished Eden!
To you I gladly surrender this melancholy life;
And were it brighter, fresher, gaudier,
Even then I’d give it to you, to you alone would then I give.

In fields of battle, deliriously fighting,
Others give you their lives, without doubt, without regret;
Where there’s cypress, laurel or lily,
On a plank or open field, in combat or cruel martyrdom,
If the home or country asks, it's all the same--it matters not.

I die when I see the sky unfurls its colors
And at last after a cloak of darkness announces the day;
If you need scarlet to tint your dawn,
Paint with my blood, pour it as the moment comes,
And may it be gilded by a reflection of the heaven’s new-born light.
My dreams, even as a child,

My dreams, when a young man in the prime of life,
Were to see you one day, jewel of the eastern seas,
Dry those dark eyes, raise that forehead high,
Without frown, without wrinkle, without stain of shame.

My lifelong dream, my deep burning desire,
Is for this soul that will soon depart to cry out: Salud!
To your health! Oh how beautiful to fall to give you flight,
To die to give you life, to rest under your sky,
And in your enchanted land forever sleep.

If upon my grave one day you may behold,
Amidst the dense grass, a simple lowly flower,
Place it upon your lips, and my soul you’ll kiss,
And on my brow may I feel, under the cold tomb,
The tenderness of your touch, the warmth of your breath.

Let the moon see me in soft and tranquil light,
Let the dawn burst forth its fleeting radiance,
Let the wind moan with its gentle murmur,
And should a bird descend and rest on my cross,
Let it sing its canticle of peace.

Let the burning sun evaporate the rain,
And with the struggle behind, towards the sky may they turn pure;
Let a friend mourn my early demise,
And in the serene afternoon, when someone prays for me,
O Country, pray that God will also grant me rest!

Pray for all the unfortunate ones who died,
For all who suffered torment unequaled,
For grieving mothers who in bitterness cry,
For orphans and widows, for prisoners in torture,
And for yourself to see your redemption at last.

And when the burial ground is shrouded in dark night,
And there alone, only the departed remain in vigil,
Disturb not their rest, nor their secrets,
And should you hear chords from a zither or harp,
'Tis I, O land beloved, 'tis I, to you I sing !

And when my grave, then by all forgotten,
has not a cross nor stone to mark its place,
Let men plow and with a spade disperse it,
And before my ashes return to nothing,
May they be the dust that carpets your fields.

Then nothing matters, cast me in oblivion.
Your air, your space, your valleys I will cross.
I will be vibrant music to your ears,
Aroma, light, colors, murmur, moan, and song,
Ever echoing the essence of my faith.

Land that I love, sorrow of my sorrows,
Adored Filipinas, hear my last good-bye.
There I leave you all, my parents, my beloved.
I go where there are no slaves, hangmen nor oppressors,
Where faith does not kill, where the one who reigns is God.

Goodbye, dear parents, brother and sisters, fragments of my soul,
Childhood friends in the home now gone,
Give thanks that I rest from this wearisome day;
Goodbye, sweet stranger, my friend, my joy;
Farewell, loved ones. To die is to rest.

This untitled poem is considered as the most celebrated poem by the national hero. Rizal’s friend, Mariano Ponce, was the one who titled the poem Mi Último Pensamiento or ("My Last Thought").
 
“Mi Ultimo Adios”, a brilliant creation, was assumed to be written the night before Jose Rizal’s execution on December 30, 1896.  A day before his execution, he was visited by her mother, nephews and siblings Lucia, Josefa, Trinida, Maria and Narcisa. Trinidad was told by Rizal in English that something is inside the alcohol stove (cocinilla) he was using in Dapitan. This stove was given by the guard to Narcisa. At their abode, the sisters discovered a folded paper inside the stove. There the unsigned, undated and untitled poem consisting of 14 five-line stanzas.  The Rizal family reproduced and distributed copies of it and sent copies to the hero’s friends in the country and abroad.
 
Widely regarded as the most patriotic poem in the world, it has been translated into at least 38 languages. The poem reflects the hero’s adoration to and patriotism for his country. He requests his fellowmen to pray for others who also have died and suffered for the country.  He begged the Filipino people to never lose hope and faith in the Lord God. Forceful words were used to encourage them not to be the discouraged by the oppression of the Spaniards.

At the last part of the poem, Jose Rizal mentioned his “sweet stranger” as his friend and joy. This implied his farewell to his beloved “dulce estranjera”, Josephine.

A song based on the poem “Mi Ultimo Adios” was composed by Joey Ayala.


UNDATED POEM
37. A FRAGMENT (A Poem that has no title)

To my Creator I sing,
to my All-Merciful Lord, the Omnipotent,
who hushed my suffering
and his sweet solace sent
to ease me while in tribulation I went.

You, with authority,
said: Live; and I myself to life came forth;
free will you gave to me
and a soul that must find worth
in goodness, like a compass needle set north.

You willed my birth to be
of honorable parents, a house of honor;
and a country you granted me:
rich, fair to all who won her,
though fortune and prudence may be scarce upon her.

This short poem of Rizal has no title. It bespeaks of his thanksgiving to God for soothing him during his troubles and dark moments. In the poem, he also expressed his gratitude to God for allowing him to be born to a respectable and honorable family and to belong to a rich country. The difficulties and struggles of Rizal which he suffered and his sadness were evident in the verses of this poem. (Copyright 2013 by OurHappySchool.com, All rights reserved)

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