Jose Rizal wrote “To the Flowers of Heidelberg” on April 24, 1886 while he was in Germany and studying to be a good ophthalmologist. He was fascinated by the flowers in spring in Heidelberg and wrote this poem feeling a deep longing for his family and his country.
Go to my country, go, O foreign flowers,
sown by the traveler along the road,
and under that blue heaven
that watches over my loved ones,
recount the devotion
the pilgrim nurses for his native sod!
Go and say say that when dawn
opened your chalices for the first time
beside the icy Neckar,
you saw him silent beside you,
thinking of her constant vernal clime.
Say that when dawn
which steals your aroma
was whispering playful love songs to your young
sweet petals, he, too, murmured
canticles of love in his native tongue;
that in the morning when the sun first traces
the topmost peak of Koenigssthul in gold
and with a mild warmth raises
to life again the valley, the glade, the forest,
he hails that sun, still in its dawning,
that in his country in full zenith blazes.
And tell of that day
when he collected you along the way
among the ruins of a feudal castle,
on the banks of the Neckar, or in a forest nook.
Recount the words he said
as, with great care,
between the pages of a worn-out book
he pressed the flexible petals that he took.
Carry, carry, O flowers,
my love to my loved ones,
peace to my country and its fecund loam,
faith to its men and virtue to its women,
health to the gracious beings
that dwell within the sacred paternal home.
When you reach that shore,
deposit the kiss I gave you
on the wings of the wind above
that with the wind it may rove
and I may kiss all that I worship, honor and love!
But O you will arrive there, flowers,
and you will keep perhaps your vivid hues;
but far from your native heroic earth
to which you owe your life and worth,
your fragrances you will lose!
For fragrance is a spirit that never can forsake
and never forgets the sky that saw its birth.