Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX. 1876–79.

West Indies: Havana, Cuba

El Paseo

By Thomas Durfee (1826–1901)

CLOUDLESSLY burning in sapphire aloft,

Eve touches the grove with an orange light,

And a sea-born zephyr, whispering soft

To me as I stroll in the shade to-night,

Balmily wooing me, kissing my cheeks

With a moist and perfumed breath so dear,

Of billow and blossom deliciously speaks,

For with both it hath dallied in journeying here.

And, leisurely sauntering to and fro

In a magical day-dream all my own,

I gaze at the beautiful dames that go

In their open volantes up and down;

Bewitchingly floating, by threes and by twos,

In their gauzy cloudlets of silk and of lace,

That seem to have robbed the sky of its hues,

And seem to have robbed the swan of his grace;

Bright rosy-lipped creatures with opaline smiles,

That slowly in ripples of light expire,

Or wanton with arch and womanish wiles,

Or flit with a faint and delicate fire;

With their tresses more dusk than the raven’s plume,

Wavily parting and flowing from cheeks

Aglow with the ripe and luxuriant bloom

In which their tropical nature speaks.

In a gaudy procession they pass and return,

Voluptuous beauties in manner and mould,

With their black Spanish eyes that languish and burn,

Now temptingly tender now tauntingly bold;

Or, borne in an indolent semi-repose,

Beguiled by the sensuous charm of the hour,

Go dreamily on, as the white swan goes

O’er waters that wander by hamlet and bower.

And, lazily loitering here and there,

Under the shadow of murmuring limes,

Puffing a redolent smoke in the air,

Lulled by the peal of the vesper chimes,

By the fountain’s trill, by the ocean’s roll,

By the languor and calm of the eventide,—

To all its sweet ravishment yielding the soul,

There lounges many a group by my side;

Till the lingering glory wavers and wanes

From shadowy slope and from glimmering height

And the tall royal palm alone retains

In the sheaf of its leaves a roseate light,

Till the marvellous night steals into the skies,

And white in the moon lie the land and the sea,

And the women are gone with their beautiful eyes,

And the luminous stars are blinking o’er me.

And lonely musing under the limes,

The wandering breeze, like a friend at my ear,

Doth hum an old music that hints of old times,

Old faces, old friends, and old memories dear;

And my vision is blurred, and my heart is afar

In the land that it loves where the snow still lies,

In the home that it loves with a lady rare,

And blest in the light of her soft northern eyes.