“Goodbye to Leonor” was written by Rizal for his childhood sweetheart, Leonor Rivera — who was only 13 years old when they met in Dagupan. Despite the distance between them, they tried to stay in touch by sending letters and photographs to one another. But their love affair was strongly disapproved by Leonor’s parents.
Later on, Leonor (who was Rizal’s sweetheart for 11 years) married Henry Kipping, a British railway engineer, who helped build the Manila-Dagupan Railway system in 1890. This deeply saddened Rizal, thus this melancholic poem for Leonor.
And so it has arrived — the fatal instant,
the dismal injunction of my cruel fate;
so it has come at last — the moment, the date,
when I must separate myself from you.
Goodbye, Leonor, goodbye! I take my leave,
leaving behind with you my lover’s heart!
Goodbye, Leonor: from here I now depart.
O Melancholy absence! Ah, what pain!