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

West Indies: Cuba, the Island

Season of the Northers

By José María Heredia (1803–1839)

Translated by W. H. Hurlbut

THE WEARY summer’s all-consuming heat

Is tempered now; for from the frozen pole

The freed north-winds come fiercely rushing forth,

Wrapt in their mantles, misty, dim, and frore,

While the foul fever flies from Cuba’s shore.

Deep roars the ocean, heaving high his breast,

And smites the beach with long resounding blows;

Zephyr his wings in dewy freshness bathes,

And floating vapors veil transparently

The glowing sun and the resplendent sky.

Hail, happy days! whose healing might o’erthrows

The bloody shrine which May, amid her flowers,

Built up to Death, while close beside her stood

Attendant Fever, ghastly pale and fierce,

A gleaming form, clothed on with Nature’s curse.

With threatening eyes the kindred spirits saw

The white-browed sons of milder regions move

Beneath the terrors of this tropic sky;

They saw, they touched them with the fatal rod,—

Their frames are dust, their souls are with their God.

But their fell reign is o’er; the northern wind,

Driving the noxious poisons from the air,

Spreads its broad wings above us, moist and cool,

And echoing, sweeps upon its blessed way,

Bringing us rest from August’s sultry day.

O’er the far fields of Europe’s gloomy land

Rushes in wrath untamed the selfsame blast,

Spoiling the earth of verdure and of life,

Whelming the wreck beneath a snowy tomb,

While man lies shivering in his frozen home.

There all is death and grief; but Cuba now

Smiles with new life and joy: the beaming sun,

His glories softened by translucent clouds,

Lends a new lustre to the grove and plain,

And wakes them all to joyous spring again.

My happy land! thou favored land of God,

Where rest his mildest looks, his kindliest smiles,

Oh, nevermore from thy beloved soil

May cruel fortune tear me; but be thine

The latest light that on these eyes shall shine!

How sweet, dear love, to listen to the rain

That patters softly on our humble home;

To hear the wild winds whistling o’er the plain,

And the deep booming of the ocean’s roar,

Where shattering surges lash the distant shore!

Here, by thy side, on softest couch reclined,

My throbbing lyre shall rest upon thy knees,

And my glad heart shall sing the boundless peace

Of thy fair soul, the light of thy dear face,

My happy lot, and God’s surpassing grace.