Thursday, October 4, 2012

Farewell from Welfare Island


The past is only a shadow emerging from
nowhere.

Life was somewhere forgotten
and sought refuge in depths of tears
and sorrows;
over this vast empire of solitude and darkness.

Where is the voice of freedom,
freedom to laugh,
to move
without the heavy phantom of despair?


— Julia de Burgos


Julia de Burgos (1914-1953) is considered by many to be one of the greatest Latin American poets of all time. Farewell from Welfare Island was written by de Burgos while being treated at Goldwater Memorial Hospital on Welfare Island (now known as Roosevelt Island). It is believed to be the only poem she ever wrote in English  — months before her death.