By Luis G. Dato
Farewell, dear isles beloved of sea and sky,
Where once we envisioned the gleam of Paradise,
For your dear sake seems it divine to die,
And were life fresher, brighter still would I
Walk smiling onward to the sacrifice.
Down fields of battle in the undying faith,
Others face death without questioning why:
Place matters not: the laurel or the wreath,
The scaffold, torture, or the plains of death,
All are the answer to the country’s cry.
I die just when the sky purples in the dawn,
And day at last arises from the night,
And if your dawn a deeper hue would own,
My blood take also, may the color strown*
Shine as it mirrors the wakening light.
The dreams which fancy to my childhood gave,
My darling dreams when into youth I came,
Were to behold you, Pearl of the Orient wave,
One day with dark eyes clear, the brow held grave
Aloft, unfurrowed, free at last from shame.
Dream of my life, my burning, living desire,
Hearken my soul to you at parting cry.
Hail, my country! how lovely ‘tis to expire,
To die that you may live a life yet higher,
The dead to slumber underneath your sky.
If some day** by my tomb a flower blows
From eyes half-hidden in the tufted grass,
Please draw it to your lips and press it close,
And I shall feel deep down whence it uprose,
Your kiss and sigh as by my tomb you pass.
Let moons look on me in the brooding night,
Let morn its passing splendor o’er me bring,
The wind let whisper o’er me in its flight,
And if a bird upon my cross alight,
Its hymn of peace, above me, let it sing.
Let the hot sun up gather cloud and rain
And skyward turn them pure even as my plea,
Leave friendship o’er my early tomb complain,
And in the evening when some pray in pain,
Pray also, O my country, pray for me.
And pray for all who in ill-fortune taken
Died in the night in thankless martyrdom,
For widows, orphans, men who groan forsaken,
For our mothers with bitter sighing shaken,
And for yourself who sees redemption come.
And when the tombs in night are darkened round
And but the dead keep watch there all night through,
Seek not to break their slumber underground;
And should by chance you hear a windborne sound,
My soul it will be, singing unto you.
And when my grave by none remembered more,
Bears neither cross nor stone o’er my remains,
Let plow and plowman, treading, turn it o’er;
I will have turned to dust, and long before
I will have spread, wind-blown, upon your plains.
What matter then if you forget the slain,
When I will roam your sky, your space at death?
With tremulous note will I your hearing gain,
Turn beam and hue and scent and sigh that fain
Would echo still the burden of my faith.
O woe of me, my motherland, my own,
Philippines dear, hear you my last goodbye.
From those I loved and loved me I’ll be gone;
I’ll dwell where slave and tyrant are unknown,
Where faith brings life and god rules o’er on high.
Farewell, dear parents of my spirit part,
Dear comrades in the land loved best, farewell;
Give thanks that I from living will depart,
Goodbye, sweet stranger** friend and joy of heart;
Goodbye, my dear ones; death is rest. Farewell!
Note: Mr. Dato’s translation, which he entitled “Mi Ultimo Pensamiento,” has appeared in a number of publications in whole or in part, and is here published with new revisions by the translator. (A.V. Hartendorp, editor, Phil. Mag., ca. 30s)
Luis G. Dato (July 4, 1906 – January 29, 1985) was a poet, writer and educator from Sta. Cruz, Baao, Camarines Sur. He published books in English including Manila A Collection of verse (1926), My Book of Verses (1936) and the Land of Mai in 1975. He also wrote several books and text in Bikol such as, Vocabulario Bikol-Ingles-Kastila (1963), Cantahon na Bikol (1969), Morfologia kan Tataramon na Bikol (serialized in Naga Times), Patotodon sa Bikol (Bikol Mail) and Sarabihon sa Bikol.