This day we completely lost sight of land and many men sighed and wept for fear that they would not see it again for a long time. I comforted them with great promises. Christopher Columbus, Diario, Sunday, 9 September 1492
All things in the Indies overflow.
Blue cranes throng the marshes. The rivers and lakes are lustrous with swans. Along the quays, men fish with gigantic poles and silk. None of the shoals
is dangerous. Ships take the coves like streams. Musk and lichens swell in the cedar forests;
and past the plains and mountains: crystal and dome.
Each palace shines. Each city is a new city.
Every person lives in an honest fashion,
and the king is sympathetic as the moon.
The Indies are the Earthly Paradise where even the snakes that crawl are undisguised.
The whole land is fluvial. Red fruit fattens beneath the canopy of palms.
Wheat as it ripens speaks more softly;
the sea is sweet to drink. The sun ascends
to its most majestic height and every hill it touches wears a purple crown. Tall grasses bend before the scythe in every valley and all the dust that sifts through stones is gold.
Barbara Helfgott Hyett, from Double Reckoning