Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DROWNED HIDALGO DREAMS, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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THE DROWNED HIDALGO DREAMS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Bahama and the caribbees? But in the mains of sun
Last Line: "all day abeam the wondrous dream -- all night its valiantries!"
Subject(s): Conquistadors; West Indies; Caribbean Islands


"Bahama and the Caribbees? But in the mains of sun
Oh, Cabot never won a realm like that our Cortez won!
Velasquez had his Cuba -- Cordova, Yucatan, --
But Don Grijalva spied for us the conquest we began.
From Seville and from Cadiz beat out the fleets of chance
And fade through golden sunsets to climes of high romance;
And, like a cloud of fire, on phosphor tropic seas,
All day abeam the wondrous dream -- all night its valiantries!

"We raised dusk Indian islands where painted parrots scream.
Our chief paced Cuba's beaches to frame the further dream,
Till out from drowsed Havana our brave sails drew unfurled,
Our red cross 'twixt its vivid flames daring the Western world.
Past Cozumel, Tobasco, and past Grijalva's isle,
Till on that Holy Thursday we saw our harbor smile,
And natives with their trinkets speed the long, light pirogue
From where the muddy island streams in languor disembogue.

"The royal Castile ensign apeak whipped out like flame;
And soft-voiced Indian women with fruits and flowers came.
Oh kindliest Marina, who held our captain's hand
And told in words of music the glory of that land!
Still do I dream volcanoes against an azure sky, --
Of swarth caciques and Aztecs that smiled and passed us by
In coats of priceless feather-work, like birds of Paradise, --
And, reeking to the hot, hot sun, the heathen sacrifice.

"Still gorgeous tropic plumage and fruits of fair design
Down streets of bright Tezcuco in savage brilliance shine.
Again from some high table-land I gasp upon the view
Of golden-domed Manoa that we hidalgos knew . . .
Again I hear the idols crash from their templed state.
The streets run thirsty murder and ring with screams of hate.
Again we swarm the altar rock and slay like raging beasts.
Again I hear through storms of spears the death-chant of the priests!

"Here there is time for thinking, where timeless tide-years flow.
And through my brain in pageants rolls the siege of Mexico.
But to my trance of dreaming no peace my dreaming brings,
For still the past shrieks round me with abominable things.
Heap high the treasures of all worlds, ye could not lure again
To such another conquest this man of Cortez' men!
Dead men, who saw the altars drip, the throbbing heart held high,
I cry 'Abominations!' Then charge me if I lie!

"Yet -- Cuba and the Caribbees! Ah, but the mains of sun
Hold no transcending city like that our Cortez won!
Velasquez to his vanity, Cordova to his greed,
But Don Grijalva spied for us where our great chief might lead.
From Seville and from Cadiz beat out the fleets of chance
And fade through gorgeous sunsets to climes of high romance;
And, like a cloud of fire, through phosphor tropic seas,
All day abeam the wondrous dream -- all night its valiantries!"





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