Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Gan-Eden, the Queen of the Antilles

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

West Indies: Cuba, the Island

Gan-Eden, the Queen of the Antilles

By Mary Bayard Clarke (1827–1886)

KNOWEST thou that isle of flowers,

Where the softest breezes blow,

And the Frost-king never spreadeth

O’er the earth his pall of snow?

Where, like gray old marble vases,

Crowned with feathery turfs of green,

Royal palm-trees rise majestic,

With the cocoas in between?

Where the purple-sheathed banana

Mingles with the sugar-cane,

And the fragrant coffee sheddeth

Scarlet berries on the plain?

Where the guava-apple ripens,

And zapotes, rough and brown,

With the mamey and the mango,

Cast their luscious sweetness down?

Where whole fields of ripening anas

With their fragrance load the breeze,

And the golden orange glistens

Mid the blossoms on the trees;

And the ever green pomegranate

Swings its coral flower-bells,

When its ruby grains are bursting

From their russet-colored shells?

’T is the Queen of the Antilles,

Seated on her emerald throne,

Crowned with ever-blooming flowers,

And a beauty all her own.

With a grace that ’s truly regal

Sits she in her lofty seat,

Watching o’er her subject islands

In the ocean at her feet.

While its waters, blue as heaven,

Laughing leap upon her breast,

Where all nature ever seemeth

For a happy bridal drest.

Truly is it called Gan-Eden,—

’T is a garden of delight;

But, alas, the serpent’s trailing

O’er its beauty casts a blight.