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University of Waterloo

Mi Ultimo Adios by: Jose Rizal

Humbert John Paolo Arroyo

Prof. S. Tolmie
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A. Full Text of the Poem

Mi Último Adiós
By: José Rizal

Adiós, Patria adorada, región del sol querida,

Perla del mar de oriente, nuestro perdido Edén!
A darte voy alegre la triste mustia vida,
Y fuera más brillante, más fresca, más florida,
También por ti la diera, la diera por tu bien.

En campos de batalla, luchando con delirio,

Otros te dan sus vidas sin dudas, sin pesar;
El sitio nada importa, ciprés, laurel o lirio,
Cadalso o campo abierto, combate o cruel martirio,
Lo mismo es si lo piden la patria y el hogar.

Yo muero cuando veo que el cielo se colora

Y al fin anuncia el día tras lóbrego capuz;
si grana necesitas para teñir tu aurora,
Vierte la sangre mía, derrámala en buen hora
Y dórela un reflejo de su naciente luz.

Mis sueños cuando apenas muchacho adolescente,

Mis sueños cuando joven ya lleno de vigor,
Fueron el verte un día, joya del mar de oriente,
Secos los negros ojos, alta la tersa frente,
Sin ceño, sin arrugas, sin manchas de rubor

Ensueño de mi vida, mi ardiente vivo anhelo,

¡Salud te grita el alma que pronto va a partir!
¡Salud! Ah, que es hermoso caer por darte vuelo,
Morir por darte vida, morir bajo tu cielo,
Y en tu encantada tierra la eternidad dormir.

Si sobre mi sepulcro vieres brotar un día

Entre la espesa yerba sencilla, humilde flor,
Acércala a tus labios y besa al alma mía,
Y sienta yo en mi frente bajo la tumba fría,
De tu ternura el soplo, de tu hálito el calor.

Deja a la luna verme con luz tranquila y suave,

Deja que el alba envíe su resplandor fugaz,
Deja gemir al viento con su murmullo grave,
Y si desciende y posa sobre mi cruz un ave,
Deja que el ave entone su cántico de paz.
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Deja que el sol, ardiendo, las lluvias evapore

Y al cielo tornen puras, con mi clamor en pos;
Deja que un ser amigo mi fin temprano llore
Y en las serenas tardes cuando por mí alguien ore,
¡Ora también, oh Patria, por mi descanso a Dios!

Ora por todos cuantos murieron sin ventura,

Por cuantos padecieron tormentos sin igual,
Por nuestras pobres madres que gimen su amargura;
Por huérfanos y viudas, por presos en tortura
Y ora por ti que veas tu redención final.

Y cuando en noche oscura se envuelva el cementerio

Y solos sólo muertos queden velando allí,
No turbes su reposo, no turbes el misterio,
Tal vez accordes oigas de cítara o salterio,
Soy yo, querida Patria, yo que te canto a ti.

Y cuando ya mi tumba de todos olvidada

No tenga cruz ni piedra que marquen su lugar,
Deja que la are el hombre, la esparza con la azada,
Y mis cenizas, antes que vuelvan a la nada,
El polvo de tu alfombra que vayan a formar.

Entonces nada importa me pongas en olvido.

Tu atmósfera, tu espacio, tus valles cruzaré.
Vibrante y limpia nota seré para tu oído,
Aroma, luz, colores, rumor, canto, gemido,
Constante repitiendo la esencia de mi fe.

Mi patria idolatrada, dolor de mis dolores,

Querida Filipinas, oye el postrer adiós.
Ahí te dejo todo, mis padres, mis amores.
Voy donde no hay esclavos, verdugos ni opresores,
Donde la fe no mata, donde el que reina es Dios.

Adiós, padres y hermanos, trozos del alma mía,

Amigos de la infancia en el perdido hogar,
Dad gracias que descanso del fatigoso día;
Adiós, dulce extranjera, mi amiga, mi alegría,
Adiós, queridos seres, morir es descansar.
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My Last Farewell
Translation by: Humbert John Paolo Arroyo

Goodbye, my cherished homeland, beloved region of the sun,

Pearl of the sea of the Orient, our lost Eden!
To you I give up this cheerful yet melancholy life,
And even if my life were brighter, fresher, more florid,
Even then I would give up my life to you, for your sake.

In the fields of battle, euphorically fighting,

Others give you their lives with no regard, without regret;
The site does not matter, where there’s cypress, laurels, lilies,
On the gallows or open fields, in combat or martyrdom,
Death is all the same when the home or country ask for it.

I die today when the sky has spread its final colours
And at last after a cloak of darkness signals the day;
If you need a scarlet red to cover your aurora,
Use the blood I shed for you, pour it as the moment comes
And may it glisten by a reflection of heavens light.

My dreams when I was just an adolescent,

My dreams when I was a young man already full of life,
Was to see you again one day, pearl of the Orient,
Dry those sorrowful eyes of black, and keep that forehead high,
Without a frown, without wrinkles, and without stains of shame.

My lifelong dream, and my deep yearning desires,

My soul that will soon depart from this world cries out: Salute!
To your health! Ah, how beautiful it is to fall to give you flight,
To die to give you life, to die under your sky,
And in your enchanted land eternally I do sleep.

If upon my grave one day you see a sprout appear,

Between the thick grass, a simple humble flower,
Place it close to your lips and my soul you shall embrace,
And on my forehead, may I feel, under this cold tomb,
The gentle tenderness of your breath warms me to the touch.

Let the moon see me in a soft and harmonious light,

Let the dawn send its fleeting radiance,
Let the wind moan with its lonesome murmur,
And should a bird descend and perch on my cross,
Let the bird sing its melody of peace.
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Let the sun, which is burning, evaporate the rains

And with my grievance left behind, may heaven turn pure,
Let a friend mourn over my early demise,
And in the serene afternoons, when someone prays for me,
Pray for me also, dear Country, pray to God for my rest!

Pray for all those unlucky souls who died without success,
For all those who suffered unparalleled torments,
For all our poor mothers who in their grief and bitterness cry,
For all orphans and widows, for prisoners in torture,
And for yourself pray that you see your final redemption.

And when the cemetery is covered by the darkness of night,

And only the dead alone are left watching over this place,
Do not disturb their rest, do not disturb the mystery,
And should you hear the chords from a zither or psaltery,
It is I, beloved country, playing a song to you.

And when my grave is then already all forgotten,

Has not a cross or stone to mark its place,
Let it be plowed by men, and with a spade scatter the place,
And before my ashes return back to nothing,
May they be the dust that carpets over your fields.

Then nothing matters, put me into oblivion,

Your atmosphere, your space and valleys I will cross,
I will be a vibrant and clear expression to your ears,
Aroma, light, colours, murmur, moan, and song,
Constantly repeating the essence of my conviction.

My idolized homeland, pain of my pains,

To my dear Filipinas, bid me my final farewell,
There I leave you all, my parents, my loves,
I will go where there are no slaves, hangmen nor oppressors,
Where faith does not kill, where God reigns supreme.

Goodbye, dear parents, brothers and sisters, fragments of my soul,

Childhood friends in the home now lost,
Give thanks that I rest from this exhausting day,
Goodbye, sweet foreigner, my friend, my joy,
Goodbye, my dearest beloved, to die is to rest.
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B. Crib

So long my beloved country, this region basked in sun,

You are the jewel of Asia, earth’s forgotten paradise.
I surrender my sad and gloomy life to you with no regrets,
Even if my life was great and wholesome,
I would still give it up for you, you are that special to me.

People fight and give away their lives regretting nothing,

In the battlefield, they fight ecstatically for you.
It doesn’t matter the current place or position one is in,
Whether in open combat, or in a plank awaiting their doom,
To die for one’s country in any situation is all the same to me, regardless.

I die today at dusk

When the sky is almost fully covered in darkness,
If you need to paint your skies a scarlet red at dawn,
Use the blood I shed for you when that moment comes,
And may it shine brightly on the heaven’s newly lit sky.

My dreams when I was just a lively child,

My dreams when I was an adventurous young man already full of life,
Was to see my country again, this paradise in Asia.
Don’t be afraid, hold your head high,
Don’t grow weary of the shame of my passing.

My long-lasting dreams and desires,

Will soon vanish in a blink of an eye. Hopefully my soul shall depart out of my body
Crying out: “Farewell! Be Healthy!” It is so gratifying to die for you,
My death shall give you life, to die in my country, under her skies,
I shall sleep eternally in this enchanted land I can call, home.

If one day you happen to stumble upon my grave,

This forgotten place covered in long grass and weeds,
Place a simple flower that you have embraced on my stone, and my soul you have kissed,
And hopefully I would feel your warm embrace under this cold catacomb of mine.
The soft gale of your tenderness, the warmth of your breath, eases the pains in my heart.

Let the moon see me in a vulnerable and innocent manner shining in its tranquil light.
Let the dawn bask me in its fleeting radiance.
Let the wind sob with its sunken hum,
And if a bird descends and rests on my cross,
Let it sing its peaceful song.
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Let the burning sun dry up the rains,

And with my painful sorrows left behind on earth, let my departure towards the sky be pure.
Let a friend mourn for my early condemnation,
And in the calm and quiet afternoons, when someone prays for you,
Please pray for me also!

Pray for all those who have died for this country,
For all who suffered unimaginable lives.
For our poor mothers who in their sorrows and bitterness cry,
For orphans and widows, for prisoners in torture,
And for yourself pray that in your final moments you’ll find redemption.

When the cemetery is swallowed up by the darkness of the night,

And there, whose resting place have remained watching over the living,
Do not disturb their place nor their reasoning.
And should you hear chords from a zither or psaltery,
Know that it is I, beloved country, singing a song to you.

A day will come when everyone will forget about me,

Where my place of rest bears no stone or cross.
Let men plow and with a spade scatter my resting place.
And before my remains return to nothing,
May they get swept by the winds and carpet your fields.

When that fateful day comes, nothing matters anymore. Forget about me.
Your atmosphere, this land I’ll cross.
I will be a charming and lively tune to your ears,
Aroma, light, colors, murmur, moan, and song,
Constantly encompassing the values of my faith.

My beautiful country, do not be sad,

Beloved Filipinas, hear my last farewell.
I will soon leave you all, my parents, my loved ones.
I will go to where there are no slaves, executioners or oppressors,
Where faith doesn’t kill, where God reigns above all.

So long dear parents, brothers and sisters, you all are the last remaining fragments of my
memories. Childhood friends in my town I will soon lose,
Give thanks that I will finally rest from this strenuous day;
Goodbye, my sweet wife, my friend, my joy;
Farewell, loved ones, in death I finally rest.
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C. Process Document

My approach to the English translation of Rizal’s final poem “Mi Ultimo Adios,” was to

retain his final thoughts surrounding his execution through word by word translation while also

trying to stay true with the poem’s original meter. I found this poem incredibly challenging in

regard to the translation process because I decided to keep the original’s syllabification or metre

which was in Spanish alejandrino. I wasn’t all too familiar with this style of verse, but from Dr.

Rozotto’s understanding, the metrical style in Spanish poetry is composed of 14 syllables for

each line that is separated in the middle by a brief pause or comma. Synonymous to how writers,

reflect and gather their thoughts before jotting it down; Rizal combines both his fears of his

approaching death with the country that he loves and will long for after his execution.

Translating the poem to show what Rizal was thinking moments before his death was rather

simple, but incredibly time consuming due to the poem having 14 stanzas with 5 lines each.

Overall, I am satisfied that my translation is able to provide Rizal’s final thoughts, wishes,

and goodbyes very accurately to the original’s. However, I tried to mirror the original’s

Alexandrine syllabification but to no avail. Notice how my translation tries to keep the Spanish

alejandrino rule of 14 syllables for each line, seven for each half-line, but even then, the form

when translated doesn’t seem right to me. After further research, it has come to my attention that

the English language doesn’t conform to Alexandrine meter, for English is a stressed-timed

language where certain syllables are pronounced longer. In English, only 12 syllables for each

line, six for each half-line, make up an alexandrine meter. Therefore, my efforts to match the

original’s syllabification was somewhat in vain and incorrect. What a bummer.

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D. Spanish Word Etymology (Translated with OED)

(masculine noun)
English Translation: Orient(n. & adj.)
Origin: Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from French and Latin.
Etymons: French orient; Latin orient-, oriēns, orīrī.
Etymology: < Anglo-Norman orient, oriente and Middle French orient the East (c1100 in Old
French; French orient ), region situated to the east of a given point (beginning of the 12th cent.),
the corresponding compass point (first half of the 12th cent.), sparkle of the eyes (1573), lustre of
a pearl (1742) and its etymon classical Latin orient-, oriēns the eastern part of the world, the part
of the sky in which the sun rises, the east, the rising sun, daybreak, dawn, use as noun
of oriēns rising, eastern, present participle of orīrī to rise < the same Indo-European base as
Sanskrit ṛ- to raise, move, ṛṇvati rises, moves, Avestan ar- to set in motion,
move, ərənaoiti moves, ancient Greek ὄρνυσθαι to rise.

➢ The word “Oriente” here is a rather strange word choice by Rizal because the Philippines

would be the last place you think of as a country of the East. Yes, we are situated in the

Orient, but our customs and culture are far from what you might imagine. Years of

colonization and intermingling with colonizers has created this unique balance of Spanish

and Asian influences. Of course, Rizal here doesn’t describe the country as an Orient-like

place, but rather situated in the East. I just found it quite interesting that he would use this

word in particular, and not use other words like the “east” for example. I believe this

word choice comes from his many years studying abroad where Europeans typically

depict Asia as the “Orient.”

(feminine noun & interjection)
Spanish Etymology: Spanish, = (good) health: see Salute n.
English Translation: Salute, Health (well-being), Cheers (As a toast), Bless you (when
someone sneezes)
Origin: Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from French and Latin.
Etymology: < French salut (masculine), of twofold origin: (1) = Spanish saludo , Italian saluto ,
verbal noun < Common Romanic (Latin) salūtāre to salute v.; (2) originally feminine, =
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Spanish salud, Portuguese saude, Italian salute < Latin salūt-em (nominative salūs) health,
safety, salvation.

➢ I chose “Salud” to dissect because Rizal uses the word as some sort of intertextual

message between him and the reader. Of course, he masterfully hides this brief greetings

and salutations with the reader, by masking it with the guise of the country that he is

supposedly writing this final love letter to. This part of the poem was challenging to

translate because it almost ties with the next line as if Rizal wasn’t done speaking his

piece, so both lines in a way act as one single verse. “Salud” is also varied in meaning

both in Spanish and in its various English translations. I could have easily translated it as

the actual saluting pose one does patriotically or the saying one does with friends over a

pint of beer. Thankfully, Rizal adds the latter half of that greeting in the next line which

roughly translates to “your health,” which helped in finding his true intentions with the

word, “Salud.”

(masculine noun)
Spanish Origin: A borrowing from Latin. Etymon: Latin oblīviō.
English Translation: Oblivion(n.)
Origin: Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from French. Partly a borrowing from Latin.
Etymology: < Anglo-Norman and Middle French oblivion forgetfulness (c1220 in Old French;
French †oblivion ) and their etymon classical Latin oblīviōn-, oblīviōforgetfulness, state of being
forgotten, amnesty < oblīv- , verb-stem found in oblīviscī to forget

➢ “Olvido” was another weird word choice that comes out of nowhere and just appears

dramatically at the end of the opening line in the 12th stanza. I think Rizal here was going

for that melodramatic punchline when he writes that his death wont matter, and his

legacy will be forgotten as time progresses. Thus, he wishes to be cast onto oblivion so to

speak, to be forgotten after death. This dramatic change from listing all his desires and
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wishes he will never be able to fulfill, is humbling to say the least. Rizal figuratively

wants to be “down with the Earth,” when he states after that he wants to be a part of the

Philippines, the country’s form and atmosphere, he wishes to cross like the winds after

death. The Philippines was his muse, and death won’t stop him from embracing it.
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E. Formal Description

Mi Ultimo Adios (Original)

What is the poem’s FORM?

Poem consisting of 14 stanzas with five lines each. Rhyme is assonant with a strict ABAAB

rhyme scheme, the repetition of familiar vowel sounds is present by the end of each of line.

Notice the many ‘a’ and ‘o’ vowel endings scattered throughout the poem, which is common in

Spanish poetry. For a poem that was created just days before his execution, Rizal created a final

piece with a consistent metric pattern.

What is the poem’s METRE?

It is a poem in Alexandrine verse which varies in metre by the language it is constructed with.

For example, the Spanish alejandrino follows a strict 14 syllable verse with a 7+7 syllabic

construction for each half-line, similar to French alexandrine. English alexandrine is just another

term for iambic hexameter, a line of verse which consists of six feet. Rizal adheres to this

alejandrino style of verse to a great extent, however, there are lines in the poem that only end

with 13 syllables. Considering that he put great effort in providing his final poem with a

consistent rhyme scheme, while also incorporating a rather archaic metrical form in the eve of

his execution. The imperfections, which only accounts for five lines in Mi Ultimo Adios, is

understandable. Regarding stressed syllables in alejandrino, the final syllable in each half-line is

always stressed. For comparative purposes, alejandrino is very similar to its English counterpart,

iambic hexameter.
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➢ The poem in its entirety, almost acts as a conversation between Rizal and his motherland,

the Philippines. He personifies the country in the fourth stanza, when he describes the

country as a sorrowful widow that he longs after death to embrace. The poem can be also

viewed as a romanticized letter to ones dearly beloved that foretells of his eminent


➢ The poem also acts as a confessional of some sort, where Rizal declares his dreams and

desires that he will never accomplish in death. He does, however, lists certain demands

that he wishes his muse will fulfill after his death. Rizal longs for his country before and

after his passing, so much so that he wishes to be a part of it. Rizal wants to look after his

motherland. Be its aromas, lights, colours, murmur, moan, and song. Become a part of it

after death.

➢ Rizal also describes the Philippines as earth’s lost Eden which of course, alludes to the

biblical garden of Eden. He essentially calls the place where he was born and soon will

be killed, a heaven on earth or paradise. Rizal also names the Philippines the “Pearl of the

Orient,” which can imply numerous connotations like marriage, an unbreakable bond, or

just simply calling the place, the jewel of Asia.

➢ Due to the poem’s composition being Alexandrine, there is a natural pause within most

verses. The purpose of Rizal’s caesura in his final poem is solely for dramatic effect.

Take note that he was still writing Mi Ultimo Adios in his cell just days before his

execution. The pauses here seem sorrowful, almost as if he was sobbing while gathering

his final thoughts on his short life.

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My Last Farewell (English Translation)

What is the poem’s FORM?

My translation keeps the original poem’s 14 stanzas of five lines each. In terms of rhyme

scheme, I found it incredibly difficult to maintain the original’s ABAAB rhyme without

completely hindering the meaning. In the end, I decided to favour the actual meaning of the

poem over its form because the poem itself is just incredibly demanding in terms of length and


What is the poem’s METRE?

In terms of syllabification, I tried to replicate the original’s Spanish alejandrino rule. However,

as I progressed with my rough translations, I realized the natural stresses of syllables couldn’t

possibly be interpreted in English. I later found out that English had its own rules regarding

Alexandrine, with 12 syllable verses which results in an 6+6 syllabic construction. I decided to

continue my translation following the Spanish customs, and ended up with a translated poem

consisting mostly of 14 syllable verses. There are inconsistencies with my translation, however,

many verses did end with only 10 or 11-syllables and upwards of 16-syllables in one case. This I

blame of course, on the English language and its approach of always simplifying certain nouns

and adjectives that derive from Spanish or Latin words.


➢ When it came to translating the original poem to English, I wanted my rendition to stay

true to the original’s syllabification, which is Spanish alejandrine. So, I tried to do just

that with my translation consisting mostly of 14-syllable verses with caesuras throughout.
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However, it later came to my attention that alejandrine could not possibly translate

perfectly back into English because its purpose is solely for the Spanish language.

Therefore, I am stuck with an English translation of Rizal’s Mi Ultimo Adios consisting

of metrical verse composed for Spanish poetry. I could write that my translation is in

iambic heptameter, after all it checks the box for 14-syllable verses. However, I am not

inclined to do so because I am not quite certain what to make of it. Let me reiterate that

my interpretation sides more on actual translation than its functions as a poem. Therefore,

the techniques Rizal uses are not lost in my translation. Rather, they are apparent and

incorporated in my translation to a great extent.

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F. Author Biography (Recycled from last Dossier)

Widely considered by Filipinos as the official national hero of the Philippines, Jose Rizal was

born on June 19, 1861, in the town of Calamba, Laguna, just an hour away from Manila, the

nation’s capital. Born to educated and Catholic parents, Jose was the seventh child in a family of

11 children (2 boys and 9 girls).1 At the age of 3, Rizal was already able to recite the alphabet

through the guidance from his mother, and at 5, while learning how to read and write, Rizal

already showed promise in becoming an artist. By the age of 8, Rizal would write his first poem

in Tagalog called, “Sa Aking Mga Kabata,” a poem dedicated to his native language. At 16 years

of age, Rizal would obtain his Bachelors of Arts degree from the Ateneo Municipal de Manila

and would further his studies at various universities in Manila.

Rizal’s tenure at these universities in Manila were unfortunately cut short, due to his

resentment of the Dominican friars who he felt were discriminating against his fellow Filipino

peers. On May 3, 1882, the then 20-year-old Rizal sailed for Spain where he continued his

studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid. His travels throughout the world but most notably

in Europe and the United States, enabled the young and charismatic Rizal to learn a multitude of

languages. He would eventually stop at 22 languages learnt ranging from Latin rooted languages

like Spanish and English, to even the most obscure in Sanskrit. Rizal was without a doubt, a

polyglot, and is coined for writing that “Man is multiplied by the number of languages he

possesses and speaks.”2 In March 1887, Rizal would publish his first book while residing in

Berlin, entitled Noli Me Tangere, where Canto de Maria Clara is found. Provocative in nature,

Montemayor, Teofilo H. “Jose Rizal: A Biographical Sketch.” Jose Rizal [Biography], Jose Rizal University,
Rizal, Jose . “Reflections of a Filipino.” La Solidaridad , 1888.
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Rizal’s novel exposed the arrogance and despotism of the Spanish clergy, which in turn

provoked the Spanish authorities residing in the Philippines to imprison him upon his return to

Manila in 1892. Rizal was charged with rebellious activities and was deported to Dapitan in

Mindanao, where he would spend his exile doing numerous activities like building schools and

hospitals. He would also teach in the schools he built and taught and engaged in farming and

agricultural activities.

Full blown revolution by the Katipunan, an anti-Spanish militant group, swept the

nation like wildfire, proving to be a nationwide uprising. Rizal, who was at the time on his way

to Cuba to minister victims of yellow fever, was arrested and imprisoned in Barcelona on

October 6, 1896. He was sent back to Manila the same day to await his trial as he was implicated

in enacting the revolution through his associations with the Katipunan (which he did not have).

Rizal was tried before a court martial with the accusations for rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy,

was convicted on all three charges, and sentenced to death. On December 30, 1896, moments

before he was to be killed by his fellow countrymen by firing squad, he recited the final words of

Jesus Christ: “consummatum est”, − it is finished.3 He was not known to be religious at any

point in his life.

Rizal would leave behind a wife in Josephine Bracken, an Irish woman he met while

residing in Hong Kong, and an untitled poem which his beloved peers would later title “Mi

Ultimo Adios”, − My Last Farewell.

Frank Laubach, “Rizal: Man and Martyr” Manila: Community Publishers, 1936.
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G. Cultural Document

Jose Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios” would be the last poem the Filipino nationalist and

polymath ever produced. Written days before his execution by firing squad on 30 December

1896, Rizal’s final poem mostly touches on his love for country and his desires to see it past

Spanish colonialism. The poem was written in the cell he was kept hold in, and was smuggled

out and distributed to Rizal’s close acquaintances throughout the Philippines and abroad, by his

family members who had visited him the day before his execution. It is well known that Rizal

did not provide a title for his final poem, and that it was his dear friend Mariano Ponce, another

Filipino writer/revolutionist, that entitled the poem on his behalf. When the Philippines became

annexed by the United States as a result of the Spanish-American war that ended in 1896, the

Philippines was viewed in a negative light with American congress perceiving Filipinos as

simpleminded individual’s incapable of self-government.4 However, in 1902, American

congressman Henry Allen Cooper, lobbying for the management of Philippine affairs, recited

Rizal’s poem before the United States Congress. Realising the extent of utmost nobility and

nationalism of the poem’s author, his fellow congressmen would later pass the Philippine Bill of

1902 which resulted in a self-governing Philippines. Certain freedoms and equal rights were

given to Filipinos after the passing of the bill, even though the United States still discriminated

against Chinese immigrants and African Americans who have yet been granted equal rights as

US citizens.

Throughout the years, Rizal’s Mi Ultimo Adios has been recited numerous times to enact a

sense of nationalism for those who wish freedom against tyranny. Indonesian journalist and

Susan Brewer (2013). "Selling Empire: American Propaganda and War in the Philippines". The Asia-Pacific
Journal. 11 (40).
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author Rosihan Anwar, translated Rizal’s poem into his native language and used it to topple

down two reigning colonial superpowers in Japan (1944) and the Dutch empire in 1949,

respectively. Anwar translated Mi Ultimo Adios using an English edition of the poem since he

did not know Spanish, and devoted a single back page in Indonesia’s national newspaper Asia

Raja, for both his translation and Rizal’s original. Anwar also recited the poem through radio

broadcast numerous times to Indonesian soldiers before they went off to battle.

Like many other of Rizal’s works, “Mi Ultimo Adios” is nationalistically driven yet

somehow somber, which is most likely due to the author’s situation at the time. In all my days

being a student of literature, I haven’t come across a work of literature that was created regarding

the author’s impending death, until I came across Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios.” English poets like

P.B Shelley have written similar nationalistic works like “The Masque of Anarchy,” where the

author similarly transcends his body through a dreamlike phase and looks at the disparity of his

country from afar. What separates Rizal from English nationalists is how he tends to stray away

from negative topics such as Spanish colonialism, but rather dramatizes the beauty in dying for

one’s country. The poem derives heavily from European influences of the time, which is to be

expected as Rizal did study abroad for numerous years. Therefore, “Mi Ultimo Adios,” does

conform to late 19th century Romantic poetry as his final poem contains many techniques and

familiar attributes like nature, general thought, dreams, etc. Rizal in “Mi Ultimo Adios,”

expresses his wishes, dreams and desires that he could not possibly accomplish in death. But

instead of contemplating on his impending demise, Rizal embraces his death and sees it as a

noble sacrifice that will strengthen the nation. He desires to be with his muse, his country, for all

eternity. Jose Rizal was the living embodiment of the Filipino spirit and his legacy remains in the

Philippine culture to this day.

Arroyo 19

In terms of form and metre, Mi Ultimo Adios conforms to a lax Spanish alejandrino

syllabification, meaning most verses end with 14 syllables with a caesura or break to create 7+7

syllables for each half-line. The poem is comprised of 14 stanzas of five lines each with an

ABAAB rhyme scheme throughout. Alexandrine originated and is mostly used by the French,

and made its way in Spanish poesy through clerical verse by the latter half of the 11th century.

Alejandrino became more prominent in Spanish poetry during the 13th and 14th centuries before

it was eclipsed by the more flexible and dandier arte mayor. In English verse, alexandrine is just

another term for iambic hexameter. Notable works of English poetry where alexandrine is used

include, P.B Shelley’s “To a Skylark,” and Thomas Hardy’s “The Convergence of the Twain.”

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