Albert Pike (1809-91) once said that “what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal,” and I think Jose Rizal is one of the most important figures who actually devoted himself, particularly his intellectual endowments to the services and for the progress of his countrymen. He bestowed patriotic and nationalistic oeuvre that opened the eyes of his fellow poets and captured the hearts of his people. Needless to say, he truly left a mark that even the nature’s changing course can’t change because that mark was evidently sealed in our hearts. For the most part, one of Rizal’s writings which is widely regarded as a masterpiece is his Mi Ultimo Adios (My Last Farewell), the last known poetic tribute beautifully penned by Rizal to his one, true love: Philippines. “My Last Farewell” is a 14-verse valedictory poem written shortly before he was put to death. Such poetry expresses love, death, unfathomable grief and a man sure of his own convictions. It contains lines that enlightened and ignited the flame of millions of people’s hearts. It begins with its first stanza: Farewell, dear Fatherland, clime of the sun caress'd Pearl of the Orient seas, our Eden lost!, Gladly now I go to give thee this faded life's best, And were it brighter, fresher, or more blest Still would I give it thee, nor count the cost. Rizal asserted here that he would die in the name of the Philippines with no regret.
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In line 2, “our Eden lost!,” he alluded to the Spanish friars who neglected our pre-Christian culture and made us used their favor language to prevent handing down the ancient stories from generation to generation. Thus, Filipinos were metaphorically seen by Rizal as people who had been driven forth from the “garden” of their own culture. He continues then: On the field of battle, 'mid the frenzy of fight, Others have given their lives, without doubt or heed; The place matters not-cypress or laurel or lily white, Scaffold or open plain, combat or martyrdom's plight, is ever the same, to serve our home and country's need. At this moment, Rizal admires and agrees those who fight in the lines 6 and 7. The kind of death those fighters’ life will be such on line 9 doesn’t matter because their death is a true valor and brings honor to the beloved Philippines. He then continues: I die just when I see the dawn break, Through the gloom of night, to herald the day; And if color is lacking my blood thou shalt take, Pour'd out at need for thy dear sake To dye with its crimson the waking ray. From the above stanza, Rizal uses devices that employs our visual senses on these lines. To think that this was written on the eve of his execution, he must have had pictured out what would await him. He then continues to say: My dreams, when life first opened to me, My dreams, when the hopes of youth beat high, Were to see thy lov'd face, O gem of the Orient sea From gloom and grief, from care and sorrow free; No blush on thy brow, no tear in thine eye. From these lines, Rizal’s intention was to remind us that we are a witness of his ideas and thoughts he had put on paper and ever since he was a child, he dreamed of seeing his country as free as an uncage bird could fly. He then continues: Dream of my life, my living and burning desire, All hail! cries the soul that is now to take flight; All hail! And sweet it is for thee to expire; To die for thy sake, that thou mayst aspire; And sleep in thy bosom eternity's long night. From these lines, Rizal was telling us to remember him as someone who died because of his love and his living flame of patriotism. He says in the third line that it is sweet to fall knowing your country may acquire something positively. He continues on in the succeeding lines that to die is giving you life, and he’s somewhat saying that his death was not an end but somehow just a beginning. He then continues: If over my grave some day thou seest grow, In the grassy sod, a humble flower, Draw it to thy lips and kiss my soul so, While I may feel on my brow in the cold tomb below The touch of thy tenderness, thy breath's warm power. In this stanza, Rizal had metaphorically seen himself as a humble flower in the grassy sod which means he was just a simple, and humble man who is trying to cling on the cliff and being dragged by the heavy stones of society and even if his time has come, he will still live on and never cease to enjoy what Philippines had given to him.
Thus, it has been personified in the last line. He then continues to say: Let the moon beam over me soft and serene, Let the dawn shed over me its radiant flashes, Let the wind with sad lament over me keen; And if on my cross a bird should be seen, Let it trill there its hymn of peace to my ashes. From the above stanza, Rizal had foreseen his death however, he admitted that his dreams have always guided his actions. The following lines also mentioned and purely personified his emotions that he has felt in his fight for freedom. Let the sun draw the vapors up to the sky, And heavenward in purity bear my tardy protest Let some kind soul o'er my untimely fate sigh, And in the still evening a prayer be lifted on high From thee, 0 my country, that in God I may rest. In these lines, he pleaded earnestly to his motherland that his soul may rest in God for he believed that men are sinners and that salvation is to be earned and cannot be determined before the grave. He uses personifications again from the first three lines. He then continues: Pray for all those that hapless have died, For all who have suffered the unmeasur'd pain; For our mothers that bitterly their woes have cried, For widows and orphans, for captives by torture tried And then for thyself that redemption thou mayst gain. From this stanza, Rizal uses apostrophic lines by pleading to his country on praying the things he had mentioned from the first three lines and he also, in a hopeful closing note, asks her to pray for herself. He then continues to say: And when the dark night wraps the graveyard around With only the dead in their vigil to see Break not my repose or the mystery profound And perchance thou mayst hear a sad hymn resound'T is I, O my country, raising a song unto thee. In these lines, Rizal again had pictured his final resting place, where he shall be singing a song to his country. He again personified things from the above lines and end it with an address to the Philippines by offering a song. He then continues: And even my grave is remembered no more Unmark'd by never a cross nor a stone Let the plow sweep through it, the spade turn it o'er That my ashes may carpet earthly floor, Before into nothingness at last they are blown. In this next stanza, he mentioned here that if his grave was no longer remembered, he wishes to then be plowed by man. However, what happened actually in today’s time was different from what he said in the said lines. He then continues to say: Then will oblivion bring to me no care As over thy vales and plains I sweep; Throbbing and cleansed in thy space and air With color and light, with song and lament I fare, Ever repeating the faith that I keep. From the above stanza, Rizal envisions that if his ashes were spread on his motherland, which was mentioned from the previous stanza, he now can say that he has returned to her. He then continues to the next stanza: My Fatherland ador'd, that sadness to my sorrow lends Beloved Filipinas, hear now my last goodbye! I give thee all: parents and kindred and friends For I go where no slave before the oppressor bends, Where faith can never kill, and God reigns e'er on high! In these lines, Rizal submissively state in a hopeful tone. He then bid goodbye to his beloved country and contemplating being with God in heaven wherein there are no more slaves and tyrants. He then continues to his last stanza: Farewell to you all, from my soul torn away, Friends of my childhood in the home dispossessed! Give thanks that I rest from the wearisome day! Farewell to thee, too, sweet friend that lightened my way; Beloved creatures all, farewell!
In death there is rest! From this concluding stanza, Rizal addressed his lines to his beloved parents, brothers, and childhood friends. He then now shifted on bidding goodbye to all and ended it with striking words, “In death there is rest.” What matters death if one dies for what one loves, for native land and cherished ones. Maria Luisa Valdez mentioned on her analysis in Rosales’ (2010) “World Literature” book that Rizal’s oeuvre has a common trait of Spanish poets like Campoamor, Espronceda and Nuñez de Arce. The descriptions of Rizal’s “My Last Farewell,” like dark night, loving, the cries, the cemetery and total silence were also somewhat similar to one of the said poets, José de Espronceda’s, “La Despedida.” Rizal commonly expresses his undying love for freedom and to his beloved country. The images pertained in his valedictory poem were similar to Espronceda’s “La Despedida”, for both poems gave us the meaning of life and about the thing we are all bound to have: death. However, for Rizal, he defined death as a total way out for man. Espronceda’s thought on the other hand, he defined it as an unjust fate or fatal destiny. Both of them, however, described the battlefield displaying the heroic sacrifices in the name of their motherland. Here are some of the similar verses: La Despedida 31st stanza: They equaled my grief and my agony. Finish death here my anguish, And still die happy! My eyes burn A tear, oh God! and you lay it down. My Last Farewell 1st stanza: Farewell, dear Fatherland, clime of the sun caress'd Pearl of the Orient seas, our Eden lost!, Gladly now I go to give thee this faded life's best, And were it brighter, fresher, or more blest Still would I give it thee, nor count the cost. Both texts were actually pertaining to dying with no regret. “My Last Farewell” of Jose Rizal is truly an undying piece of art that moved and will continue to move people’s heart and serve as an eye-opener to all. Therefore, I’m leaving this analysis with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18’s concluding couplet, “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”