What Is Jose Rizal’s Poem, My Last Farewell, About?

Jose Rizal’s “My Last Farewell” is a poem about his impending death as he wanted to honor his homeland, the pre-Hispanic Philippines, for which he was giving his life. He also used the poem to say goodbye to his friends, family and loved ones.

Rizal faced execution shortly after he wrote the poem, on December 30, 1896, at the hands of a Spanish army firing squad. The army’s intent was to kill Filipino soldiers like Rizal, who had formed a rebellion against the Spanish incursion. Rizal hid the poem in an alcohol stove for his family members to find.

Rizal’s poem was originally written in Spanish, without a title or date attached to it. It has also been translated with the title, “Goodbye, My Beloved Fatherland.” Rizal is considered a national hero in the Philippines, and his poem was later recited by Indonesian soldiers prior to battle during the Indonesian National Revolution in the 1940s.

“My Last Farewell” is required reading in schools in the Philippines. It is 14 stanzas long, and lauded for its nationalism. Rizal emphasizes in the poem that in his death, he is finally finding freedom from the oppression and enslavement the Filipinos faced at the hands of the Spanish.