Nicolás Guillén (1902-1989) was a Cuban poet, journalist, political activist and writer. While acclaimed as Cuba's poet laureate, as one of the foremost exponents of 'black poetry' his cultural horizons extended beyond the frontiers of his native land.
The Blacks, by the ship,
working. The Arabs, selling,
the French, strolling and resting,
and the sun, scorching.
The sea rides in to lie
at port. The air toasts
the palm trees ... I scream: 'Guadeloupe!'
but no answer.
The ship weighs anchor, ploughing
the impassive waters with a foamy thunder.
Behind it, the Blacks keep working,
the Arabs selling,
the French strolling and resting,
and the sun scorching ...
Translated by Robert Marquez
*Third World Resurgence No. 316, Dec 2016, p 56