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SANTA YNEZ, by                    
First Line: Still upon these cragged slopes the deer feed in the twi- / light glow
Last Line: And the homes of guadalúpe throng the mother's doors around.
Subject(s): Missions & Missionaries; Saints; Soldiers

Still upon these cragged slopes the deer feed in the twilight glow,
While the bear and mountain lion keep at bay the common foe.

Here Madroño, masquerader, makes the shrubby forest gay;
Hangs the Manzanita shyly, berries bright by mountain way.

On the creeks the plant of Gilead finds the bay's funereal tree;
Heaven's healing on Death's footstep follows, if we will but see.

Of these hills the herds unconquered, ownership with grizzlies claimed,
Ruled the bullock o'er the mountain, as some savage prince untamed.

Often here the wild rodéo tore the dust from ev'ry hill,
And the bellowing of cattle made the very tree-tops thrill.

Proud rode forth the brave vaquero, horse and rider moved as one,
Pawed the ground th' impatient mustang, eager for the fray begun.

Dashed they in 'mong fierce bands surging, wild as billows winter-lashed;
Like white boats o'er waves wind-driven, their sun-bright sombreros flashed;

Parting rightward, parting leftward, that each ranch its own might gain;
Savage bullocks with their wide horns, plowed the trembling earth in vain;

For the hissing keen riatas' level circles small or great,
Seized upon the maddened captives, like a fierce pursuing fate;

Supple dropped on horns defiant, sinuous caught the flying feet;
Swayed each rider in his saddle, with a movement bold and fleet;

Backward braced the foaming mustang, rolled the conquered to the ground,
Helpless 'neath the branding iron, firmly by the skilled noose bound.

Gone the wild herds from the mountains; ride forth few vaqueros now;
Hang the braided lithe riatas useless on the saddle-bow;

For the droves in paltry numbers, tame as barn-yard bovines stand,
In their bondage scare rebelling at the hot iron's servile brand.

Where the mountain's veil is bluest, like bones bleaching in the sun
Lie stark ruins of the work built late ere padres' time was done;

Stands a corridor of arches, turned to greet the rising sun;
One waits for his benediction, when for us his work is done.

Through the fathers' stone-paved chambers rings the heel's half-shrinking tread,
Drear as mem'ries through a heart which knows all hopes of earth are dead.

Iron doors and cloisters bolted; rusty locks resist the hand;
What is this whose blackness threatens where the barréd gateways stand!

Dungeon sunless as the sorrow which its walls have echoed back;
Soldier life and priestly ruling, here have left a certain track.

Judge not, by the light we live in, men who wrought in greater gloom;
Leave to Him whose vision reaches from earth's cradle to its tomb.

God alone can sift the gleanings which the years have gathered in,
Horrors marked with holy purpose; good, with serpent trail of sin.

Sweet the story of Our Lady who on Guadalúpe's site,
Showed her pure face to an Indian, late redeemed from pagan rite;

While he wandered through the cactus, pondering her virtues rare,
Lo! upon the hill before him, stood her semblance passing fair;

And she softly spoke unto him, while he sank upon the earth,
"Fear not, son of Montezuma, chosen thou e'en from thy birth;

"Bear my message to the fathers, that a house they build me here,
And my glory shall rest on it:—Son, depart with heart of cheer."

And her smile, a radiant blessing, fell upon his spirit's strife,
Soft as sweet dew of the manna feeding with the bread of life;

Then a darkness smote his dim soul, and a dread doubt on him fell;
Thrice repeated was the vision ere he dared the tale to tell.

Spake the fathers, gravely doubting, "Lo! the winter time perceive;
Bring us now the Mother's flowers, and thy message we'll believe."

Went he forth to sunlight darkened, prostrate at his rocky shrine,
When a voice like soft air pulsing, spake in cadences divine;

Paused the smitten earth to listen, wheeled the birds and hung in air;
"Son, behold yon barren rock and thence my sacred roses bear."

When before the bishops his rough tilma laid he on the ground,
Stood rebuked unto their servant, prelates deep in lore profound;

On the robe of aloe thread, 'neath mystic roses piled as May,
Was the Dame of Guadalúpe, pictured in a wond'rous way.

Stands to-day an altar where her blesséd feet made holy ground,
And the homes of Guadalúpe throng the Mother's doors around.

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