14 Feb Rizal’s Verses for Leonor and Maria Clara
Prior to his departure for Europe, Jose Rizal composed the song Leonor as a farewell poem with music for Leonor Rivera, the girl to whom he was engaged to be married. He composed the melody during a sojourn in Dagupan, Pangasinan. “The song became so popular that many were heard singing it in the streets and during social gatherings. The moment they saw Leonor, the children would sing the song” (Rubio 1978). Below is an English translation of the poem or lyrics of the song:
Ya llegó, pues, aquel fatal instante,
Adiós, Leonor, adiós, que me despido,
And so it has arrived: the fatal instant,
Goodbye, Leonor, goodbye! I take my leave,
Another poem by Rizal, Canto Patriotico de Maria Clara was set to music in the mid-twenties by Juan de S. Hernandez, a well-known teacher and conductor who wrote the zarzuelas Minda, Lukso ng Dugo, and Ang Puso ng Isang Pilipina. It is the most popular of all the songs based on the poems by Dr. Jose Rizal in his novel Noli Me Tangere. In the novel, the poem was sung by Maria Clara and was thus popularly called the Song of Maria Clara:
¡Dulces las horas en la propia patria
Ardientes besos en los labios juegan,
Dulce es la muerte por la propia patria,
Sweet the hours in the native country,
Warm kisses on the lips are playing
How sweet to die for the native country,
*English translations by Nick Joaquin
Rizal’s poems (1962). Manila: Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission.
Rubio, H. (1978). Filipino heritage: the making of a nation. Manila : Lahing Pilipino Publishing.
The complete poems and plays of José Rizal translated by Nick Joaquín (1976). Manila: Far Eastern University.
Leonor Rivera, 1882 (Retrato Photo Archive)