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Interpretation: Education Gives Luster to Motherland

Wise education, vital breath
Inspires an enchanting virtue;
She puts the Country in the lofty seat
Of endless glory, of dazzling glow,
And just as the gentle aura's puff
Do brighten the perfumed flower's hue:
So education with a wise, guiding hand,
A benefactress, exalts the human band.

In this first stanza, Rizal expresses that education is what builds up a country and allows her to rise above the rest in matters of honor and a good name. He likens a guided and relevant education to the vibrance of a flower.

Man's placid repose and earthly life
To education he dedicates
Because of her, art and science are born
Man; and as from the high mount above
The pure rivulet flows, undulates,
So education beyond measure
Gives the Country tranquility secure.

From the time of a man's birth to the moment of his death, he is constantly engaged in the journey of learning. This can come in the form of a formal education and a structured curriculum, or in the essence of daily living. And in this continued journey, people begin to discover and innovate, create and recreate, giving birth to great discoveries and breathtaking wonders. Rizal likens eduction to a rivulet, a stream, a brook, that provides a certain peace as the water endlessly flows.

Where wise education raises a throne
Sprightly youth are invigorated,
Who with firm stand error they subdue
And with noble ideas are exalted;
It breaks immortality's neck,
Contemptible crime before it is halted:
It humbles barbarous nations
And it makes of savages champions.

Knowledge and wisdom enliven and embolden the young. With the sword of education they are able to identify errors and correct them. They are able to find fault in the seemingly faultless fabric of earthly knowledge and smother it with truth. They are well-respected for the ideas they bring to the world.

A good education is an effective remedy to the problem of criminal acts and unlawful pursuits. Even nations who wish nothing more than to divide, conquer, and control are silenced when they open their ears to the voice of wisdom, which stops hatred in its tracks and promotes the welfare of the people. Even savages, turn into champions when they are afforded a good education.

And like the spring that nourishes
The plants, the bushes of the meads,
She goes on spilling her placid wealth,
And with kind eagerness she constantly feeds,
The river banks through which she slips,
And to beautiful nature all she concedes,
So whoever procures education wise
Until the height of honor may rise.
From her lips the waters crystalline
Gush forth without end, of divine virtue,

Knowledge is likened to a spring that nourishes everything its water touches. The spring of knowledge is everlasting; there is no end to it.

And prudent doctrines of her faith
The forces weak of evil subdue,
That break apart like the whitish waves
That lash upon the motionless shoreline:
And to climb the heavenly ways the people
Do learn with her noble example.

In the education and enlightenment of the soul, man is able to overcome the powers of evil, which in this stanza, are likened to the waves that lash upon the shore. Yet when man opens his eyes to the divine revelation and acquires knowledge in matters of the spirit, he is able to defeat the oppression of evil and "climb the heavenly ways."

In the wretched human beings' breast
The living flame of good she lights
The hands of criminal fierce she ties,
And fill the faithful hearts with delights,
Which seeks her secrets beneficent
And in the love for the good her breast she incites,
And it's th' education noble and pure
Of human life the balsam sure.

Here, education is likened to a balsam, producing medicinal effects to the many afflictions of the human race, which are generally and singularly rooted in the propensity for evil. The acquisition of good wisdom enables man to magnify his passion for good and continually shun temptation.

And like a rock that rises with pride
In the middle of the turbulent waves
When hurricane and fierce Notus roar
She disregards their fury and raves,
That weary of the horror great
So frightened calmly off they stave;
Such is one by wise education steered
He holds the Country's reins unconquered.

An educated man does not sway when trials come. He stands firm in the midst of trouble and remains courageous in times of despair. Great horrors cannot frighten him as they do other people. Education provides her country with strong and respectable citizens who are ready to fight for her honor no matter the cost.

His achievements on sapphires are engraved;
The Country pays him a thousand honors;
For in the noble breasts of her sons
Virtue transplanted luxuriant flow'rs;
And in the love of good e'er disposed
Will see the lords and governors
The noble people with loyal venture
Christian education always procure.

The achievements of an educated man are not forgotten, and he passes his wisdom on to the generations that come after him. He becomes a beacon to his family and sets a good example for the youth. In this stanza, Rizal also stresses the great importance of a Christian education, as opposed to one that lacks the spiritual aspect, which he obviously considers an essential cornerstone.

And like the golden sun of the morn
Whose rays resplendent shedding gold,
And like fair aurora of gold and red
She overspreads her colors bold;
Such true education proudly gives
The pleasure of virtue to young and old
And she enlightens out Motherland dear
As she offers endless glow and luster.

The poem ends in a splash of color as the author likens a good education to lights of the sun and the aurora. Great wisdom picks no favorites; young and old benefit from it and delight in its joys. Rizal closes the verse with an image of his country with the sun overhead, a sun that embodies the virtues and wonders of a good education, which he dreams for every citizen to enjoy.

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