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They Ask Me for Verses

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They Ask Me for Verses

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They Ask Me For Verses
 
In 1882, shortly after his arrival in Madrid, Rizal joined the Circulo Hispano-Filipino ( Hispano Philippine-Circle ) , a society of Spaniards and Filipinos. Upon the request of the members of this society, he wrote a poem entitled “Me Piden Versos “ ( They Ask Me For Verses ) which he personally declaimed during the New Year’s Eve reception of the Madrid Filipinos held in the evening of December 31, 1882. This sad poem, he poured out the cry of his agonizing heart.

While yet in childhood’s happy day,
I learn upon its sun to smile,
And in my breast there seems the while
Seething volcanic fires to play,
A bard I was , my wish always
To call upon the fleeting wind,
“Go ford, and spread around its flame,
From zone to zone with glad acclaim,
And earth to heaven together bind! ‘
 
But it I left, and now no more -
Like a tree that is broken and sere -
My natal gods bring the echo clear
Of songs that in past times they bore;
Wide seas I cross’d to foreign shore,
With hope of change and other fate,
My folly was made clear too late,
For in the place of good I sought
The seas reveal’d unto naught,
But made death’s spectre on me wait,
 
All these fond fancies that were mine,
All love, all feelings, all emprise,
Were left beneath the summer skies;
Which o’er that flowery region shine;
So press no more that plea of thine,
For songs of love from out a heart
That coldly lies a thing apart;
Since now with tortur’d soul I haste
Unresting o’er the desert waste,
And lifeless gone is all the art.
You bid me to struck the lyre,
That mute and torn so long has lain;
And yet I cannot wake the strain,
Nor will the Muse one note inspire!
Coldly, it shakes in accents dire,
As if my soul to wring,
And when its sound seems but to fling
A jet at its own low lament;
So in sad isolation pent,
My soul can neither feel nor sing.
 
There was a time - ah, ‘tis too true-
But that time long ago has past -
When upon the Muse...

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