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Island of mine, how sweet you are! how beautiful! Your sky is alive, with the warmth of angels,of the undersides of stars.

Your sea is the final home of ancient dolphins and stranded sirens.

Copper backbones brace your highlands, and magical twilights kindle the lantern of your air.

Resting place of gulls and petrels, rosary of sailors, antenna of America; you combine the tenderness of the small and the nobility of the great.

You have always been the loveliest land that human eyes can contemplate: the bride of Columbus, beloved youngest child, Paradise Found.

You are humble but proud, like Hatuey; ardent but chaste, like Guarina.

You are delightful as the fruit of your trees, the word of your Apostle.

You smell of quince and jasmine; of the clean earth, the sea, the sky.

Drawn on maps, highlighted by the intense blue of lithography, you seem like a fine gold iguana, a great fish asleep on the petals of the water.

But you also seem like the drawn bow an invisible archer raises in the shadows, aimed at our heart.

Slender island, you are garbed in dawn and rain, fanned by the land breeze, twirled by the summer solstice.

Like Diana, free and goddess, you want no other diadem than the moon; no other crest than the sun rising in your royal palm.

Evil beasts don't prosper in your gardens, and no bird has ever died there of the cold.

Idyllic bees people your tangled branches with honey; there the hummingbird murmurs as it hovers near the iris, and the mockingbird distills its living music.

Spangled with salt and starlight, you sleep, my little Island, in the Tropic night. You rock softly in the hammock of the waves.

You pin the rose of the winds at your waist; your Mays are full of fireflies; your fields are mint and your beaches sugar.

Planted in your spell-bound earth, dry twigs turn to spikenard, white flower of Saint Joseph, the wedding flower. Rocks of Moses, your stones gush with fountains.

A hidden archangel watches over your every bramble, and Jacob's ladder rises every night above the man who sleeps peacefully on your soil.

And another fine ladder also rises for him: the rosy smoke of tobacco, gladdening his rest and perfuming his path with dreams.

Brightest Island, your people find in you delight in being human, a reason for living, intimate dignity of being.

You are by far the most cordial, the most gracious. You offer yourself to everyone, fragrant and gracious as a cup of coffee; but you sell yourself to no one. Sometimes you've offered your blood like the eucharistic pelican, but never, like a dull creature of the shadows, sucked the blood of others.

Lithe and willowy island, I would love you even if some other land were mine, as those who come from the misty lands of the North Wind, or the gardens of the Mediterranean, or the distant country of the lotus also love you.

My Island, fragrant Island, flower of islands: hold me forever, give birth to me forever, pluck off all my departures one by one.

And keep the last for me, hidden under a little sun-warmed sand. On the shores of the Gulf where the hurricanes always make their mysterious nest!



(Spanish: Poema CXXIV ) from the book Poemas sin nombre (1953). Permission to provide this deep link, courtesy of the Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes of the Universidad de Alicante in Alicante, Spain.

Translation by Judith Kerman. First published in Dulce María Loynaz: A Woman in Her Garden (Selected Poems), White Pine Press, 2002.




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