ODE TO RIZAL (Translated from Cecilio Apostol)

By Luis G. Dato

Eternal idol of the nation’s story,
Arise immortal from the dream of glory
And break the sleep abysmal of repose,
Descend from shades eternal where you slumber,
For now our love intense as we remember
Would offer wreaths of laurel and of rose.

‘Twas on this day and on this self-same hour
When, doomed beneath the tyrant hand of power,
Your hero soul to torment was consigned,
When from the frame of mortal torn in death
Perfume was wafted in the dying breath,
Upon the laden pinions of the wind.

How much the nation owes you! From afar
You shone in sacrifice, an only star
To light the plains of combat far and near,
An apparition from the darkening sky
That taught a martyred legion how to die,
To heroes courage, and to cowards, fear.

Who has not felt his sorrow quite forgotten
With poring o’er the book by you begotten,
Wherein a nation’s rising ire is heard?
To infamy, to every pain a brother
Your pages all rebellious as none other,
Are lashes of a vengeance given word.

Perhaps you thought it was a dream beseeming,
When in exile you visioned in your dreaming
Redeemed at last a trodden Motherland,
Behold her now, the tyranny is over.
And, virgin-like, with liberty, her lover,
In union bound they wander hand in hand.

You fell as falls the ripe fruit to the earth,
But with you sprang to newer, lustier birth
A tree now stately grown. By slow degrees
The seed has sprouted from the turf of life,
And, freed at last from every cruel strife,
Beneath its shade, your brothers sleep in peace.

Repose in peace within the unlit tomb,
Redeemer of a nation from its doom,
In death bewail not, nor of death inquire
The hidden meaning of a triumph vain,
For if a bullet vengeful crashed your brain,
Your great idea crumbled an empire.

Eternal idol of the nation’s story,
Arise immortal from the dream of glory,
To you be laurels strewn. For ages long
Your holy name that shines like Thabor bright,
Will give to ages an eternal light,
To marble life, to harp eternal song.

cecilio apostol
Cecilio Apostol

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