Bahama Islands by Iris Tree


All down the somnolent street where pale tinged houses dream
The negroes go, black faces crowding together;
And between the palm leaves dancing with lethargic gestures,
The bright long water spreads, green as a parrot’s wing—
We have rest here and a monotony of wheels,
A peaceful noise like bees that moan in June—
And the sun rusts not, but his brazen heraldries
Tarnished with evening are burnished with the dawn.
Yet pain comes stabbing in the night with silver knife through the window,
A blanched moon full of fear and the burden of desire—
And nothing rids us utterly of grief,
We who have pilgrim souls that will not sleep.


Moonlight planting the world with lilies, so hushed it seems and scented,
But in the chapel is a droning where the negroes chant their hymns
And we in aureoled loneliness go down the street contented,
With hearts that beat for pleasure to the rhythm of our limbs.


From Poems, Iris Tree (1920)


Ancient Question, Ancient Reply by Luis Cernuda

Where does love go when it forgets?
It is not whom you question
It is who replies today.

It is another, to whom some more years of life
Gave the chance you didn’t have
Who may find a reply.

The toys of the child already a man,
Tell me, where did they go? You used to know,
Well, you were in a position to know.

Nothing remains of them: their ruins,
Formless and colourless, in the dust,
Time has carried them away.

The man who grows old finds in his mind,
In his longing, cheerless, empty spaces,
Where his loves walk.

But even if love dies, man still
Is not freed from love;
Its shade remains
And lust lingers on.

Where does love go when it forgets?
It is not whom you question
It is who replies today.

Luis Cernuda


From Troubled Times, 20th Century Spanish Poets, Prospice 15. Edited/Translated by J.C.R. Green, Albert Rowe, & Sandra MacGregor Hastie.