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Interpretation: To The Philippines

Aglowing and fair like a houri on high,
Full of grace and pure like the Morn that peeps
When in the sky the clouds are tinted blue,
Of th' Indian land, a goddess sleeps.


Rizal builds a description of his motherland using simile and metaphor. He likens her to an houri which, by definition, is one of the beautiful maidens that in Muslim belief live with the blessed in paradise (definition taken from Merriam-Webster). The second and third lines of this first stanza comprise one versified sentence, and when arranged in the more modern tongue, goes, "When the clouds are tinted blue in the sky, [she] peeps like the Morn, pure and full of grace." Here he also likens his country to a sleeping goddess of the Indian land. One might ask why the poet imagines his land to be in deep slumber; perhaps it is because he feels she has yet to be acquainted with greatness and with equal respect as is given to other lands.

The light foam of the son'rous sea
Doth kiss her feet with loving desire;
The cultured West adores her smile
And the frosty Pole her flow'red attire.


The Philippines as an archipelago is described in this stanza as being kissed by the light foam of the sea. The "feet" might well refer to her shores, of which she has a great multitude. Rizal manages to include the truth about the country being conquered by the West, by saying that it "adores her smile." And the rich flora and fauna of the land, the iced caps of the globe can only dream to match.

With tenderness, stammering, my Muse
To her 'midst undines and naiads does sing;
I offer her my fortune and bliss:
Oh, artists! her brow chaste ring
With myrtle green and roses red
And lilies, and extol the Philippines!


Here the poet takes a position of humility and stands in awe and adoration of his motherland. This is evident through his use of the words "tenderness" and "stammering." He calls upon undines and naiads - different types of water nymphs in mythology - as well as all of nature, represented by the three flowers: myrtle, roses and lilies, to "extol the Philippines."

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