Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE RESCUE ON THE MEXICAN BORDER, by EDNA DEAN PROCTOR

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THE RESCUE ON THE MEXICAN BORDER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Now to the lord almighty
Last Line: We lift our hearts in praise!
Alternate Author Name(s): Dean
Subject(s): Boundaries; God; Religion; Borders; Theology

NOW to the Lord Almighty —
How wondrous are His ways!—
And Our Lady of Guadalúpe,
The Holy Virgin, praise!
They pitied us in our anguish,
And safe through thousand foes
In the desert and the wilderness,
Brought us to this repose;
And we will love and praise them
Till life itself shall close!

'Twas a festal day in Larna,
Our Blessed Lady's feast;
We were up and away to the church in the vale
As dawn was red in the east,
To catch the swell of the matin hymn,
The first chant of the priest.
We knelt beside the altar
With its pictures brought from Spain;
The censers swung, the sweet bells rung,
Our hearts made glad refrain;
And home we went at evening
While the Angelus was tolled,
And the peaks of the far Sierra
Gleamed in the sunset gold.
But just as we neared the hamlet,
Where the shadows deepest lie,
From a cleft in the woody hillside
There came an awful cry,
And lo! the fierce Apaches
In all their wild array
Burst from the cedar thicket
And bore us far away!

Our Lady must have listened
To the shrieks that rent the air,
When I saw my loved Juanita
Seized by her shining hair,
And her brave young brother, Leon,
Thrust with a sharp spear back —
So the cougar springs on the helpless deer
In a lonely forest track!
All night we went in silence
By stream and steep defile,
To halt at morn on the lofty cliffs,
From Larna many a mile;
To halt while our masters ate their fill
Of the flesh of the mountain bear,
Of mescal, acorns, cactus fruits
Their prisoners might not share.
How dread they were by light of day!
Painted from waist to crown,
Their sashes blazoned with the stars,
Their black locks streaming down;
With charms of lightning-riven twigs,
And stones their foes must shun,
And, borne at their belts, the sacred meal
For offerings to the sun.
In horror and despair we gazed,
When, hush! a bugle call
Came winding, winding through the air,
And up the mountain wall!
'The saints above watch o'er us!'
In Leon's ear I sighed;
'By this I know in the plain below
Our gallant soldiers ride!'

The chief has caught the note! His scouts
Creep wary through the grass;
And stern with hate and fear he sets
His braves to guard the pass;
All eyes are bent upon the plain,
As hawks in mid-air hover; —
We breathe a prayer, and noiselessly
Slip through the dense pine cover!
And once again that bugle-call
Is borne upon the wind —
Our Lady's grace! —and on we speed
To leave the fiends behind.

Silent as startled quail we stole
Beneath the kindly shade,
Till we turned the brow of the precipice
And gained a quiet glade; —
What was that rustling in the brake?
Does the dire Apache follow?
It was only the partridge of the rock
Scared from her sylvan hollow; —
Then on by crags where the tender lambs
Of the mountain sheep are hid;
Down streams that dark with pool and fall
Descend the rocks amid;
O'er sunny slopes whose blooms were gay
As a garden bed in spring,
With birds of every rainbow hue
Like flowers that had taken wing; —
We heard the whir of the rattlesnake;
The timid fawn we found;
The stag, disturbed in his cool recess,
Went by us with a bound;
The grizzly bear and the wildcat lurked
In cave and jungle dim;
The panther, waiting for his prey,
Couched on the pendent limb; —
I pressed the cross to my beating heart,
And with many a murmured prayer
We passed, unharmed, the serpent's coil,
Unharmed, the wild beast's lair.
At twilight, faint and chill and bruised,
And torn by flint and thorn,
On the edge of the plain, in the tule reeds,
We sank to rest, forlorn.
The vulture wheeled above the marsh;
We heard the gray wolf's cry;
But God was merciful —we slept
Till the sun rose bright on high;
And then, O blessed Virgin!
The troops came riding by!

They halt! we mount! —then far we rode
Through grove and cañon gray;
O'er the blinding sands of the weary waste
Where the tired streams sink away;
Till just as the sunset splendor
Was flooding plain and steep
And the wind, like a waft of paradise,
Woke from its noonday sleep —
Oh, never, never can we forget
The joy of that glorious even —
We saw the fort, with its starry flag,
Fair as the gate of heaven!
And to the Lord Almighty,
Who rules and guides our days,
And the Saints, and the blessed Virgin,
We lift our hearts in praise!

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