Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Americas
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX.  1876–79.
 
West Indies: Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Philip Freneau (1752–1832)
 
(From The Beauties of Santa Cruz)

BETWIXT old Cancer and the midway line,
In happiest climate lies this envied isle:
Trees bloom throughout the year, soft breezes blow,
And fragrant Flora wears a lasting smile.
 
Cool, woodland streams from shaded cliffs descend,        5
The dripping rock no want of moisture knows,
Supplied by springs that on the skies depend,
That fountain feeding as the current flows.
*        *        *        *        *
Sweet verdant isle, through thy dark woods I rove,
And learn the nature of each native tree,        10
The fustic hard, the poisonous manchineel
Which for its fragrant apple pleaseth thee,
 
Alluring to the smell, fair to the eye,
But deadliest poison in the taste is found—
Oh, shun the dangerous tree, nor touch, like Eve,        15
This interdicted fruit, in Eden’s ground.
 
The lowly mangrove, fond of watery soil,
The white-barked gregory, rising high in air,
The mastic in the woods you may descry;
Tamarind, and lofty bay-trees flourish there.        20
 
Sweet orange groves in lonely valleys rise
And drop their fruits, unnoticed and unknown,
The cooling acid limes in hedges grow,
The juicy lemons swell in shades their own.
 
Soft, spongy plums on trees wide-spreading hang,        25
Bell-apples here, suspended, shade the ground,
Plump grenadilloes, and guavas gray,
With melons, in each plain and vale abound.
 
The conic-formed cashew, of juicy kind,
That bears at once an apple and a nut;        30
Whose poisonous coat, indignant to the lip,
Doth in its cell a wholesome kernel shut.
 
The prince of fruits, which some jayama call,
Anana some, the happy flavored pine,
In which unite the tastes and juices all        35
Of apple, quince, peach, grape, and nectarine,
 
Grows to perfection here, and spreads his crest,
His diadem towards the parent sun;
His diadem, in fiery blossoms drest,
Stands armed with swords, from potent Nature won.
*        *        *        *        *
        40
But chief the glory of these Indian isles
Springs from the sweet, uncloying sugar-cane:
Hence comes the planter’s wealth, hence commerce sends
Such floating piles, to traverse half the main.
 
Whoe’er thou art that leav’st thy native shore        45
And shalt to fair West India climates come,
Taste not the enchanting plant,—to taste forbear,
If ever thou wouldst reach thy much-loved home.
 
Ne’er through the Isle permit thy feet to rove;
Or, if thou dost, let prudence lead the way,        50
Forbear to taste the virtues of the cane,
Forbear to taste what will complete thy stay.
 
Whoever sips of this enchanting juice,
Delicious nectar, fit for Jove’s own hall,
Returns no more from his loved Santa Cruz,        55
But quits his friends, his country, and his all.
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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