Below is a poem written by Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the national hero of the Republic of the Philippines. My personal reaction about the poem then follows.
TO THE FILIPINO YOUTH
(A La Juventud Filipina)
Unfold, oh timid flower!
Lift up your radiant brow,
This day, Youth of my native strand!
Your abounding talents show
Resplendently and grand,
Fair hope of my Motherland!
Soar high, oh genius great,
And with noble thoughts fill their mind;
The honor’s glorious seat,
May their virgin mind fly and find
More rapidly than the wind.
Descend with the pleasing light
Of the arts and sciences to the plain,
Oh Youth, and break forthright
The links of the heavy chain
That your poetic genius enchain.
See that in the ardent zone,
The Spaniard, where shadows stand,
Doth offer a shining crown,
With wise and merciful hand
To the son of this Indian land.
You, who heavenward rise
On wings of your rich fantasy,
Seek in the Olympian skies
The tenderest poesy,
More sweet than divine honey;
You of heavenly harmony,
On a calm unperturbed night,
Philomel’s match in melody,
That in varied symphony
Dissipate man’s sorrow’s blight;
You at th’impulse of your mind
The hard rock animate
And your mind with great pow’r consigned
Transformed into immortal state
The pure mem’ry of genius great;
And you, who with magic brush
On canvas plain capture
The varied charm of Phoebus,
Loved by the divine Apelles,
And the mantle of Nature;
Run! For genius’ sacred flame
Awaits the artist’s crowning
Spreading far and wide the fame
Throughout the sphere proclaiming
With trumpet the mortal’s name
Oh, joyful, joyful day,
The Almighty blessed be
Who, with loving eagerness
Sends you luck and happiness.
REACTION ABOUT THE POEM
Without a doubt, just like all the other poems conceived by our national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the poem “To the Filipino Youth” is a masterpiece worth reading and comprehending for. While I was examining its every line, I was entirely amazed on the three aspects that composed it: the manner of writing, the message it tries to stress, and the sincerity of the poem. These aspects, I must say, were the principal strengths of the poem; and the reasons why my attention was heavily caught through it.
As to the manner of writing, if I were to base my judgments to the poem’s English translation, I can personally describe it as a “real poem”—that is, something that beautifully incorporated the essential elements of poetry. When I was trying to read it aloud, I felt like its rhythm sounded excellent and with drama. That thing made me feel more eager to continue reading it. The meter of the poem then followed a certain rule which I totally love for it showed the utmost effort of the author. Moreover, the figures of speech such as personification, alliteration and metaphor were somewhat perfectly laid down, making the poem more emotional, appealing, deep and colorful. On the other hand, the rhyming of the words also astonished me; the symbolisms then that were used such as the deities Phoebus and Apelles as symbols of their respective realms, were superb for it made the poem have a blending of Western and Eastern cultures.
As to the message the poem tries to convey, or in another way of saying, the theme of the poem, “To the Filipino Youth” does carry a very strong one; strong enough to persuade those who are to be persuaded—the Filipino youth themselves. As one of those individuals, I could really feel the nationalistic spirit within me glow brighter the moment I finished reading the poem. It was like telling me that I am one of the existing hopes of our dear country and that through my abilities, expertise and knowledge of things, I am capable of protecting its freedom against oppressive forces that may come through. Furthermore, it was like telling me that together with my fellow youths, I am responsible for preserving the Philippines as a nation not for the foreigners but for me and the rest of the Filipinos.
Finally yet most importantly, as to the sincerity of the poem, I can really consider “To the Filipino Youth” as indeed a work from the heart—no pretense, no plasticity and no sort of hidden motives. I can tell it so based on what I felt when I was reading the poem and the emotions that were expressed on each of the poem’s line. The fact that it came out during the Spanish era was also another thing that made me think that way. Conceiving a work that possesses an anti-Spain theme at that time would be a great threat to the life of the author. But despite that, Dr. Jose Rizal fearlessly created it, sticking to his nationalistic ideology no matter how dangerous the outcome would be to him. With that, I can say that he truly had the sincerity of delivering the message to the young Filipino people; and that this sincerity our national hero possessed can be vividly sensed in the poem even at a glance.
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