Mi Ultimo Adios - by Jose Rizal


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I just realized that the Poem forum is not only for our own work but also to share Poems we love.

So here's one written by Jose Rizal expressing his love for the Philippines and his desire to free it from Colonial rule. Rizal wrote this poem while he was awaiting his execution by firing squad. He was sentenced to death after the Spanish government realized that his 2 novels - Noli Mi Tangere (Touch Me Not) and its sequel El Filibusterismo (The Subversive) - were not merely fictional romance but a symbolic novel that calls for Philippine Independence.

After the Filipinos won their bid for Independence from Spain, they were surprised and dejected to find that instead of handing the government over to the Filipinos, Spain sold the Philippines to America. America, at that time, thought the Filipinos were uncivilized people and are not fit for self-governing societies.

Somehow, Jose Rizal's last poem made it to the hands of Wisconsin Congressman Henry Cooper. Rep. Cooper read the poem in a session of Congress which made US Congress realize that there is nobility in Philippine Society. This caused the US Congress to enact Philippine Bill of 1902 which allowed 2 Filipinos to represent the Philippine Territory in Congress and established the Philippine Assemby as well as extending the US Bill of Rights and immigration pathways to Filipinos - something that was surprising as US Congress still has a Chinese Exclusion Law which suspended Chinese immigration and African Americans were still not afforded equality at that time.

This poem started the ball rolling towards Philippine Independence.

Here's the text of the poem in English:

My Last Farewell

Farewell, my adored Land, region of the sun caress'd,

Pearl of the Orient Sea, our Eden lost,

With gladness I give thee my Life, sad and repress'd;

And were it more brilliant, more fresh and at its best,

I would still give it to thee for thine welfare at most.

On the fields of battle, in the fury of fight,

Others give thee their lives without pain or hesitancy,

The place matters not: cypress, laurel, or lily;

Scaffold, open field, conflict or martyrdom's site,

It is the same if asked by home and Country.

I die as I see tints on the sky b'gin to show

And at last announce the day, after a gloomy night;

If you need a hue to dye your matutinal glow,

Pour my blood and at the right moment spread it so,

And gild it with a reflection of your nascent light!

My dreams, when scarcely a lad adolescent,

My dreams when already a youth, full of vigour to attain,

Were to see thee, Gem of the sea of the Orient,

Thy dark eyes dry, smooth brow held to a high plane

Without frown, without wrinkles and of shame without stain.

My life's fancy, my ardent, passionate desire,

Hail! Cries out the soul to thee, that will soon part from thee;

Hail! How sweet 'tis to fall that fullness thou may acquire;

To die to give thee life, 'neath thy skies to expire,

And in thy mystic land to sleep through eternity!

If over my tomb some day, thou wouldst see blow,

A simple humble flow'r amidst thick grasses,

Bring it up to thy lips and kiss my soul so,

And under the cold tomb, I may feel on my brow,

Warmth of thy breath, a whiff of thy tenderness.

Let the moon with soft, gentle light me descry,

Let the dawn send forth its fleeting, brilliant light,

In murmurs grave allow the wind to sigh,

And should a bird descend on my cross and alight,

Let the bird intone a song of peace o'er my site.

Let the burning sun the raindrops vaporise

And with my clamour behind return pure to the sky;

Let a friend shed tears over my early demise;

And on quiet afternoons when one prays for me on high,

Pray too, oh, my Motherland, that in God may rest I.

Pray, thee, for all the hapless who have died,

For all those who unequalled torments have undergone;

For our poor mothers who in bitterness have cried;

For orphans, widows and captives to tortures were shied,

And pray too that thou may seest thine own redemption.

And when the dark night wraps the cemet'ry

And only the dead to vigil there are left alone,

Disturb not their repose, disturb not the mystery:

If thou hear the sounds of cithern or psaltery,

It is I, dear Country, who, a song t'thee intone.

And when my grave by all is no more remembered,

With neither cross nor stone to mark its place,

Let it be ploughed by man, with spade let it be scattered

And my ashes ere to nothingness are restored,

Let them turn to dust to cover thy earthly space.

Then it matters not that thou should forget me:

Thy atmosphere, thy skies, thy vales I'll sweep;

Vibrant and clear note to thy ears I shall be:

Aroma, light, hues, murmur, song, moanings deep,

Constantly repeating the essence of the faith I keep.

My idolised Country, for whom I most gravely pine,

Dear Philippines, to my last goodbye; oh, harken

There I leave all: my parents, loves of mine,

I'll go where there are no slaves, tyrants or hangmen

Where faith does not kill and where God alone doth reign.

Farewell, parents, brothers, beloved by me,

Friends of my childhood, in the home distressed;

Give thanks that now I rest from the wearisome day;

Farewell, sweet stranger, my friend, who brightened my way;

Farewell to all I love; to die is to rest.

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