Al Partir (Upon Departure) – a poem by Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda

Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda was a 19th-century Cuban writer. A prolific artist shunned by the male-dominated, provincial society of her time, she wrote 20 plays and numerous poems. Her most famous work is SAB, the first antislavery novel ever written.

This is my translation of her sonnet Al Partir (Upon Departure) which inspired the music of the tone poem of the same title written by my friend, Cuban-American composer Yalil Guerra:

Star of the West! Pearl of the Sea!
Beauteous Cuba! Your brilliant skies
Are darkened by night’s opaque veils
As a shroud of sorrow covers me

I depart. The diligent sailors in the crew
Tear me away from my native soil
Hoisting sails aided by the turmoil
Of warm breezes awakened by you

Good bye! Now rustle the swelling sails
The anchor unmoors, and the trembling vessel
Silently and swiftly slices the waves.

Happy birthplace, Heaven on Earth
Your sweet name will caress my ears
Whatever my furious fate may impel