Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BATTLE OF THE KING'S MILL [SEPTEMBER 8, 1847], by THOMAS DUNN ENGLISH



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THE BATTLE OF THE KING'S MILL [SEPTEMBER 8, 1847], by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Said my landlord, white-headed gil gomez
Last Line: "to conquer the country by trade."
Subject(s): Mexico City, Battle Of (1847); United States - Mexican War (1846-1848)


SAID my landlord, white-headed Gil Gomez,
With newspaper held in his hand --
"So they've built from El Paso a railway
That Yankees may visit our land.
As guests let them come and be welcome,
But not as they came here before;
They are rather rough fellows to handle
In the rush of the battle and roar.

"They took Vera Cruz and its castle;
In triumph they marched through the land;
We fought them with desperate daring,
But lacked the right man to command.
They stormed, at a loss, Cerro Gordo --
Every mile in their movement it cost;
And when they arrived at Puebla,
Some thousands of men they had lost.

"Ere our capital fell, and the city
By foreign invaders was won,
We called out among its defenders
Each man who could handle a gun.
Chapultepec stood in their pathway;
Churubusco they had to attack;
The mill of the King -- well, I fought there,
And they were a hard nut to crack.

"While their right was assailing the ramparts,
Our force struck their left on the field,
Where our colonel, in language that stirred us,
To love of our country appealed.
And we swore that we never would falter
Before either sabre or ball;
We would beat back the foeman before us,
Or dead on the battle-field fall.

"Fine words, you may say, but we meant them;
And so when they came up the hill,
We poured on them volley on volley,
And riddled their ranks with a will.
Their line in a moment was broken;
They closed it, and came with a cheer;
But still we fired quickly and deadly,
And felt neither pity nor fear.

"We smote the blue column with grape-shot,
But it rushed as the wild torrent runs;
At the pieces they slew our best gunners,
And took in the struggle our guns.
We sprang in a rage to retake them,
And lost nearly half of our men;
Then, baffled and beaten, retreated,
And gained our position again.

"Ceased their yell, and in spite of our firing
They dressed like an arrow in line,
Then, standing there moveless a moment,
Their eyes flashed with purpose malign,
All still as the twilight in summer,
No cloud on the sky to deform,
Like the lull in the voices of nature
Ere wakens the whirlwind and storm.

"We had fought them with death-daring spirit
And courage unyielding till then;
No man could have forced us to falter,
But these were more demons than men.
Our ranks had been torn by their bullets,
We filled all the gaps they had made;
But the pall of that terrible silence
The hearts of our boldest dismayed.

"Before us no roaring of cannon,
Rifle-rattle, or musketry peal;
But there on the ocean of battle
Surged steady the billow of steel.
Fierce we opened our fire on the column,
We pierced it with ball here and there;
But it swept on in pitiless sternness
Till we faltered and fled in despair.

"After that all their movements were easy;
At their storming Chapultepec fell,
And that ended the war -- we were beaten:
No story is left me to tell.
And now they come back to invade us,
Though not with the bullet and blade;
They are here with their goods on a railway,
To conquer the country by trade."





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