With the Rhine, the Rhone, the Ebro,
my eyes are filled.
With the Tiber, the Thames,
the Volga, the Danube,
my eyes are filled.

But I know the Plata,
and I know the Amazon bathes.
But I know the Mississippi,
and I know the Magdalena bathes.
I know the Almendares,
and I know the San Lorenzo bathes.
I know the Orinoco,
I know they bathe
lands of bitter slime where my voice blooms,
and languid jungles chained by bloody roots.
America, I drink from your cup,
from your tin cup,
great rivers of tears!

Oh, leave me, leave me,
leave me now
…close to the water.



Reprinted from Man-Making Words: Selected Poems of Nicolás Guillén. Copyright © 1972 by Roberto Marquez and David Arthur McMurray. Published by the University of Massachusetts Press.