To My --

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.

by Jose Rizal

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