(To La Divina Pastora)
Mother, Mercedes couldn't come.
She sent me in her stead;
For she's all the work to do at home,
Now that mother is dead.
Mercedes is nearly twice my size,
I think she's over eleven;
And she says that you, who're so good and wise.
Must know dear mother in heaven.
But that is so far off she says,
Perhaps you've neither heard,
That father's gone back to his old strange ways,
And Pedro - he is the third -
Had yellow fever, bad, in May,
And was stung by a snake in June;
And Popocita is wasting away -
The neighbour's say it's the moon.
For the timite was all blown off by the gale,
And the light strikes down on her face;
Her features are changed, and she's, oh! so pale -
They say it's a noted case.
The rice was done 'ere the year began,
And father's not planted a yard;
Often the neighbours themselves have none.
And our life is very hard;
Popocita is hungry and cries at night -
The Padre says we must pray;
And we've prayed, Oh, Mother, with all our might
But heaven is so far away!
The landlord, old Antonio,
Says praying won't raise a cent;
He comes every day, when father's away.
To bother Sis for the rent.
She hates him worse than a toad; but, alack,
The neighbours begin to flout her:
And Mercedes says: "Please, send mother back.
For we can't get on without her!"
Scribbler began an ambitious collection of tales in rhyme,
under this same title, "La Divina Pastora" the idea running
through it being pilgrims telling each his or her story by way
of confession of sins, prayer, etc., to the Blessed Virgin. Some
tales are of considerable length and too serious for inclusion
among these "Legends," which, it will be seen, are intended
mainly for children. This one, "Mercedes' Message," however,
is childish enough for anything, so in let it go.
Mercedes, i.e., "Mercy," a common Spanish name.
Venezuelans in large numbers come on pilgrimage to the
shrine of "La Divina Pastora". (See above, Legend XXV).
There is also a considerable Spanish population still in Trinidad,
especially in the southern portion of the island.
"Yellow fever." Now extinct in Trinidad, and rare in
Venezuela, but very prevalent in former days. Creoles, however,
generally took it mildly, so that little was thought of it.
"Moon" Creoles are much afraid of the moon. If you
sleep in the full moon "your features will be changed" - not
for the better seemingly.
"Timite." A kind of palm leaf used to thatch cottages.
"Father's not planted a yard." An example of Mañana,
mañana. (Cf. Legend XIX).
SOURCE: Legends of the Bocas, Trinidad. By A.D. Russell, London: Cecil Palmer, 1922. pp. 122-123
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.
Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.
Mweh ka allay!