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Jose Rizal: Childhood Memories
When Jose Rizal was fifteen years old and a student of Ateneo, he composed a poem entitled “Recuerdo a Mi Pueblo” (In Memory of My Town) which vividly described his childhood years in Calamba.
He was a frail, sickly, and undersized child. His parents gave him a tender loving care. His father built a small nipa cottage for him to play during daytime. An Aya (housemaid) was employed to look after his comfort. He remembered also the daily Angelus Prayer. By nightfall children were gathered at the house to pray the Angelus. The happy moonlit nights at the azotea after reciting the Angelus. Stories he heard from his Aya about fairies, tales of buried treasures, tress blooming with diamonds, and other fabulous stories. Those tales tickled the imagination of Jose Rizal, which developed in him an enduring interest in legends and folklore. Probably, he was truly an emotional poet; a nocturnal walk in the town under the moonlight was also included in his memoirs.
In Memory of My Town
When Early childhood’s happy days
In memory I see once more
along the lovely verdant’s shore
That meets a gently murmuring sea
When I recall the whisper soft
Of zephyrs dancing on my brow
With cooling sweetness even now
New luscious life is born in me
When I behold the Lily White
That sways to do the wind’s command,
While gently sleeping on the sand
The stormy water rests awhile;
When from the flowers there softly breathes
A bouquet ravishingly sweet,
Out-poured the newborn dawn to meet,
As on us she begins to smile.
With sadness I recall… recall
Thy faced in precious infancy,
Oh! Mother, friend most dear to me,
Who gave to life a wondrous charm
I yet recall a village plain,
My joy, my family, my boon,
Besides the freshly cool lagoon,
The spot for which my heart beats warm.
Ah yes! My footsteps insecure
In your dark forest deeply sank;
And there by every river’s bank
I found refreshment and delight;
Within the rustic temple prayed
With childhood’s simple faith unfeigned
While cooling breezes, pure, unstained,
Would send my heart on rapturous flight.
I saw the maker in the grandeur
Of your ancient hoary wood
Ah, never in your refuge could
A mortal by regret be smitten;
And while upon your sky of blue
I gaze, no love nor tenderness
Could fail, for here on nature’s dress
My happiness itself was written.
Ah, tender childhood, lovely town,
Rich fount on my felicities
Oh those harmonious melodies
Which put to flight all dismal hours,
Come back to my heart once more!
Come back, gentle hours, I yearn!
Come back as the birds return,
At the budding of the flowers!
Alas, Farewell! Eternal vigil I keep
For thy peace, thy bliss, and tranquility,
O Genius of good, so kind
Give me these gifts, with charity.
To thee I cease not to sigh
These to learn, and I call to the sky
To have thy sincerity.