Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, SAN JUAN, by GEORGE MACDONALD MOORE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

SAN JUAN, by                

"San Juan" by George MacDonald Moore, (1852-1933), an Irish novelist, poet, and playwright, published in 1922, is a tribute to Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders during the Battle of San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. The poem exalts Roosevelt's courage, strength, and leadership as he and his men face the Spanish forces.

The poem opens with a toast to Teddy, emphasizing his unknown nature to the Spaniards. It praises his intellect, vigor, and the picturesque image of his clan. The speaker anticipates a fierce encounter and a passionate welcome when Teddy is introduced on the heights of San Juan.

The poet visualizes Teddy as a lion ready to pounce, defying the Spanish opponents. The Spaniards, represented by rough bronco riders, are portrayed as helpless against Teddy's onslaught. They resort to shooting, sabering, and clubbing, but Teddy remains undeterred, defying their misrule and showing no fear.

Teddy is depicted as an unstoppable force, disregarding bullets and shells that burst near him. Even the death of his horse does not hinder his progress. He falls and quickly urges his men to follow, leading the charge with his sword held high. Bullets are described as mere dust and molehills, failing to harm Teddy or his men.

The Spaniards observe Teddy's relentless advance, expecting him to fall. However, Teddy and his men continue their march to the hilltop, undeterred by the enemy's firing. They exhibit bravery and perseverance, refusing to retreat. The poem implies that Teddy's honorable behavior influences the Spaniards' perception of how they should conduct themselves in battle.

The climax of the poem celebrates Teddy's unwavering commitment and the ultimate victory of the Rough Riders. Despite wounds and casualties, they press forward, leaving Spain in retreat and seeking safety from Teddy's gun. The skirmish is hailed as a great triumph, contrasting with General Weyler's distant position, hearing about his defeated forces.

"San Juan" pays tribute to Teddy Roosevelt and his leadership during the Battle of San Juan Hill. It highlights his bravery, resilience, and determination, depicting him as a fearless and relentless force. The poem captures the spirit of the Rough Riders and their contribution to the Spanish-American War, emphasizing their role in securing victory.

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