My Dream Is Of An Island Place

Passages from An Island by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


My dream is of an island place

By distant seas kept lonely

A little island, on whose face

The stars are watchers only.

Those bright still stars! they need not seem

Brighter or stiller in my dream.

Muhlinghaus cc by-nc-nd 2.0

Hills running up to heaven for light

Through woods that half-way ran,

As if the wild earth mimicked right

The wilder heart of man:

Only it shall be greener far

And gladder than hearts ever are.

Splashing water at the bottom of the falls in Dominica

More like, perhaps, that mountain piece

Of Dante’s paradise,

Disrupt to an hundred hills like these,

In falling from the skies;

Bringing within it, all the roots

Of heavenly trees and flowers and fruits.


Trees, trees on all sides! they combine

Their plumy shades to throw,

Through whose clear fruit and blossom fine

Whene’er the sun may go,

The ground beneath he deeply stains,

As passing through cathedral panes.

Ivan Wong Rodenas CC BY ND 2 0

I said that two or three might choose

Their dwelling near mine own:

Those who would change man’s voice and use,

For Nature’s way and tone–

Man’s veering heart and careless eyes,

For Nature’s steadfast sympathies.


No sod in all that island doth

Yawn open for the dead;

No wind hath borne a traitor’s oath;

No earth, a mourner’s tread;

We cannot say by stream or shade,

‘I suffered here–was here betrayed.’


Gently yet strangely uttered words!

They lift me from my dream;

The island fadeth with its swards

That did no more than seem:

The streams are dry, no sun could find–

The fruits are fallen…


So oft the doing of God’s will

Our foolish wills undoeth!

And yet what idle dream breaks ill,

Which morning-light subdueth?


And who would murmur and misdoubt,

When God’s great sunrise finds him out?


Photo Credits: 1.) Liam Quinn CC BY-SA 2.0  2.) Henning Muhlinghaus CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  3.) Chris Favero CC BY-SA 2.0  4.) Bart CC BY-NC 2.0  5.) Ivan Wong Rodenas CC BY-ND 2.0  6.) Goran Hoglund CC BY-ND 2.0  7.) Liam Quinn CC BY-SA 2.0  8.) Al Shep Lowe  9.) Al Shep Lowe  10.) Denus Williams


In Search of the Sisserou: A Q&A Interview Along The Syndicate Trail

Thanks to Emonews Emonews for the new video from Dominica, featuring an interview with former Forestry Department officer Bertrand along the Syndicate Trail in the foothills of Morne Diablotin National Park. Have you seen the Sisserou Parrot post-Maria? What if the Sisserou Parrot goes extinct due to Maria? What effect would this have on Dominica’s national heritage? The interview covers these questions and more. Hope you’ll have a listen!

Jaco Photos and News of a Surviving Sisserou Pair: An Update from Karl Watson

Many thanks to Karl Watson for permission to share his updates from Barbados here. His latest news, first posted on the Wild Caribbean Facebook page, includes word of a surviving Sisserou pair, as follows:

As promised, I said I would post some Dominica pictures after Dr Lennox Honychurch came to Barbados. These are some of his photographs. They tell a bittersweet story of coastal regeneration and survival, contrasted with a broken and destroyed interior. They follow a specific order.

1Red necked parrots feeding on the seed pods of the West Indian white cedar.

5A drone shot of Dr Honychurch’s property at Turtle Point, Woodford Hill, where the Red-necked parrots have gathered. Don’t be fooled by the apparent greenery of the cliff area around his house. Zoom in on the mountains in the back. This is the Morne Diablotin range. Seven weeks after Maria, the area looks as if an atom bomb had been dropped on it. I don’t know if the environmental damage caused by this natural disaster can ever properly be assessed, but the destruction of the wildlife in this vast and completely devastated area must have been enormous. This is the heartland of wild Dominica, the prime habitat of the Imperial parrot.


Next follows a close up of the Emerald Pool area at the top of the Castle Bruce valley.  I wish I had a before picture of this area to fully emphasize the horror of Maria’s destruction. 

7A photograph of broken, twisted vegetation. See if you can pick out the parrots among the broken limbs!

8The final photograph shows two Red necked parrots among the broken branches.

Dr Honychurch has confirmation from Jem Winston of the survival of a pair of Imperial parrots in the Three Rivers area on the eastern slopes of Morne Trois Pitons…He has asked a multiplicity of sources/observers including officials of the Forestry Department and workmen of the DOWASCO (water authority) who have been working in the headwaters of several of Dominica’s rivers and are therefore in a position to observe any passing parrots.

Dr Honychurch’s last words of hope are : “Dominica has vast, inaccessible areas where Imperial parrots could still remain unseen.” So let us not yet write them off as a species. They have survived past hurricanes….. maybe enough Sisserou have survived the fury of Maria to save them from certain extinction. It would be a tragedy if this bird was to disappear as so many other West Indian bird species have.

Thank you, Karl! News of a surviving Sisserou pair does indeed offer reason for hope. Keep the updates coming.

To read about the November 8 documentation of a lone Sisserou at Morne Saint Mary south of Roseau, click here.