From a Lofty Peak How Terrible to Behold

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 230th birthday.

Manuel Carpio
1791 – 1860

From a lofty peak how terrible to behold
The murky tempests far below,
And in the vast solitudes
The flash of the magnificent lightning.

Popocatepetel and Orizaba,
Crush the ground with their enormous massiveness,
And their cuspises of ice and lava
Are enveloped in a dense cloud.

There the deer, with antlered forhead,
Cross the woods with graceful bounds,
And among the pines and elevated cliffs
The waters dash in torrents.

How awe-inspiring are thine immense volcanoes
With their ponderous rocks ;
Among thy wooded mountains roar the tempest,
And their stormy summit is a crater.

Globules of fire are hurled from their mouths ;
Columns of smoke and grand flashes of fire ;
Burning sulphur, glowing sands,
Black pitch and calcined stones.

Then the foundation of the blue mountains
Trembles, and from this furnace
The rude and tremendous shaking
Extends for a hundred leagues around.

The great God of all nations said,
When distributing His treasures over the land,
“Let Mexico have silver and gold,”
And poured on thee His affluent gifts.

Translation by Ernest S. Green

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