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

West Indies: San Salvador, the Island

San Salvador

By Joanna Baillie (1762–1851)

(From Christopher Columbus)

IT was a land unmarred by art,

To please the eye and cheer the heart:

The natives’ simple huts were seen

Peeping their palmy groves between,—

Groves, where each dome of sweepy leaves

In air of morning gently heaves,

And, as the deep vans fall and rise,

Changes its richly verdant dyes;

A land whose simple sons till now

Had scarcely seen a careful brow;

They spent at will each passing day

In lightsome toil or active play.

Some their light canoes were guiding,

Along the shore’s sweet margin gliding.

Some in the sunny sea were swimming,

The bright waves o’er their dark forms gleaming;

Some on the beach for shell-fish stooping,

Or on the smooth sand gayly trooping;

Or in linked circles featly dancing

With golden braid and bracelet glancing.

By sheltered door were infants creeping,

Or on the shaded herbage sleeping;

Gay feathered birds the air were winging,

And parrots on their high perch swinging,

While humming-birds, like sparks of light,

Twinkled and vanished from the sight.