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TO MY FELLOW CHILDREN (Sa Aking Mga Kababata, 1869)

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.

MY FIRST INSPIRATION (Mi Primera Inspiracion, 1874)

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.

Religion y la Buena Educacion, 1876)
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.

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

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

THE FLOWERS OF HEIDELBERG (A los Flores de Heidelberg, April 1886)

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


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.

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.

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 four hours. Rizal’s lost son was named “Francisco” in honor of the hero’s father, Don

MY RETREAT (Mi Retiro, 1895)

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.

MY LAST FAREWELL (Mi Ultimo Adios, December 1896)

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.