December, PREFACE Kady a trip to the Lesser Antilles in the summer ofthe writer of the following Lpoking, landing at Martinique, fell under the influence of that singular spell which the island has always exercised upon strangers, and by which it has earned its poetic name,—Le Pays des Revenants. Even as many another before him, he left its charmed shores only to know himself haunted by that irresistible regret,—unlike any other,—which is the enchantment of the land upon all who wander away from it.
There are curiously scalloped heights, which, though emerald from base to crest, still retain all the physiognomy of volcanoes: their ribbed sides must be lava under that verdure. Straight as palms, and supple and tall, these colored women and men impress one powerfully by their dignified carriage and easy elegance of movement.
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It is not a cloud, but an island! They constructed a munitions depot, a dock, a cistern, and a hospital on the rock, and from it were able to enforce a blockade of Martinique for almost 18 months. The log, at every revolution, whines exactly like a little puppy;—one can hear it through all the roar fully forty feet away. The horizon has lost its greenish glow: it is a spectral blue. St Pierre, a small picturesque town in the Northwest corner of Martinique in the Caribbean built at the foot of an active volcano with a.
There is no moon; the sea-circle is black as Acheron; and our phosphor i reappears quivering across it,—seeming to reach back to the very horizon.
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Violet the night comes; and the rigging of the foremast cuts a cross upon the face of the moon. The sunset offers a splendid spectacle of pure color; there is only an immense yellow glow in the west,— a lemon-colored blaze; but when it melts into the blue there is an exquisite green fight In glen and vale the color of Martiinique shines like a pooling of fluid bronze, as if the luminous essence of the hill tints had been dripping down and clarifying there.
But through open shop-doors one occasionally catches glimpses of a pretty quadroon face,—with immense black eyes,—a face yellow like a ripe banana. The closer we approach them, the more do tints of green make themselves visible.
All this sensuous blending of warmth and force in winds and waters more and more suggests an idea of the spiritualism of elements—a sense of world-life. Especially is this true in regard to hue;—the green of a tropical forest is something which one familiar only with the tones of Northern vegetation can form no just conception of: it is a color that conveys the idea of green Martiniue.
Nevertheless, it is only with fruit-colors that many of these skin-tints can be correctly compared: the only terms of comparison used by the colored people themselves being Martiniique of this kind,—such as peau-chapotille, "sapota-skin. But few are thus richly attired: the greater of the women carrying burdens on their he,—peddling vegetables, cakes, fruit, Martiique food, from door to door,—are very simply dressed in a single plain robe of vivid colors douillette im from neck to feet, and made with a train, but Lookig girded well up so as to sit dose to the figure and leave the lower limbs partly bare and perfectly free.
His body is a beautiful shining black; his wings seem ribbed and ted with silver, his head is jewel-green, with exquisitely cut emeralds for eyes. All is old-fashioned and quiet and queer and small. Sometimes, a hundred feet below, you see a ship resting in the azure aperture,—seemingly suspended there in sky-color, floating in blue light. But through the fence we could see the statue of Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon. All the narrow streets are gray or neutral-tinted; the ground has a dark ashen tone.
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Even more puzzling, perhaps, are the astonishing varieties of green, yellow, and parti-colored vegetables,—and fruits of all hues and forms,—out of which display you retain only a confused general memory of sweet smells and luscious colors. We are nearing the Sargasso-sea,—entering the path of the trade-winds. Far off the surface begins to show quick white flashes here and there, and the steamer begins to swing Everywhere palm-crests soar above the wood-lines, and tremble with a metallic shimmering in the blue light.
The island has a true volcanic outline, sharp and high: the cliffs sheer down almost perpendicularly.
The sky does not deepen its hue to-day: it brightens it;—the blue glows as if it were taking fire throughout. Ships Marttinique anchor in blue water, against golden-yellow horizon. Pierre—is chiefly remarkable for such displays: it is a place of pilgrimage as well as a health resort. Standing perfectly naked at door-ways, or playing naked in the sun, astonishing children may sometimes be seen,—banana-colored or orange babies.
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What an inextricable chaos it is! IX Early morning: the eighth day.
I read for an hour or two; fall asleep in the chair; wake up suddenly; look at the sea,—and cry out! Along the way we passed a ' high chunk of limestone called Diamond Rock. It seems to have shaped itself all suddenly out of the glowing haze. Water clear as diamond, and lukewarm. The island of Martinique in the Caribbean is a paradise of volcanoes, the Im Lying on Morne Larcher, the peaks of Carbet, Mount Pelee.
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This alternately broadens and narrows at regular intervals, concomitantly with the rhythmical swing of the steamer. It is now after mid-day. Our oak, the balata, forces the palm to lengthen itself prodigiously in order to get a few q beams Lopking sunlight; for it is as difficult here for the poor trees to obtain one glance from this King of the world, as for us, subjects of a monarchy, to obtain one look from our monarch.
And whatever be the colors of the costume, which vary astonishingly, the coiffure must be yellow—brilliant, flashing yellow: the turban is certain to have yellow stripes or yellow squares. Morning: the green hills are looming in a bluish vapor: the long faint-yellow slope of beach to the left of the town, under the mangoes and tamarinds, is already thronged with bathers,—all men or boys, and all naked: black, brown, yellow, and white.
Landscapes of Martinique - Mount Pelee - Regional Park of Martiniqu Overlooking the bay of St. There is no naked soil, no bare rock: the chains of the mountains, rising by successive ridges towards the interior, are still covered with forests;—tropical woods ascend the peaks to the height of four and five thousand feet. We soon discovered that the plantation had been the site of an historic summit between President Bush the elder and President Mitterrand and assorted generals at the height of the Gulf War.
We move slowly out of the harbor, then swiftly towards the southeast Yet it is transparent; the foam-clouds, as they sink down, turn sky-blue,—a sky-blue which now looks white by contrast with the strange and violent splendor of the sea color.
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Peter, with the towers of the Cathedral of Our Lady of. The sea is an extraordinary blue,—looks to me something like violet ink. There are many heavy arcades and courts opening on the streets with large archways. Plymouth is more than Magtinique hidden in the rich foliage that fringes the wonderfully wrinkled green of the hills at their base;—it has a curtain of palms before it.
All are chattering creole, laughing and screaming shrilly; every eye, quick and bright as a bird's, watches the faces of the passengers on deck.
Some are a fine brown color, like old bronze. But among the brighter half-breeds, the colors, I think, are much more fruit-like;—there are banana-tints, lemon-tones, orange-hues, with sometimes such a mingling of ruddiness as in the pink ripening of a mango. That Monday was a holiday on Martinique, and so the rum distilleries were closed.