Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX. 1876–79.

South America: Colombia (New Granada)


By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

A DIRGE is wailing from the Gulf of storm-vexed Mexico,

To where through Pampas’ solitudes, the mighty rivers flow;

The dark Sierras hear the sound, and from each mountain rift,

Where Andes and Cordilleras their awful summits lift,

Where Cotopaxi’s fiery eye glares redly upon heaven,

And Chimborazo’s shattered peak the upper sky has riven,—

From mount to mount, from wave to wave, a wild and long lament,

A sob that shakes like her earthquakes the startled continent!

A light dies out, a life is sped,—the hero’s at whose word

The nations started as from sleep, and girded on the sword,

The victor of a hundred fields where blood was poured like rain,

And Freedom’s loosened avalanche hurled down the hosts of Spain,

The eagle soul on Junin’s slope who showed his shouting men

A grander sight than Balboa saw from wave-washed Darien,

As from the snows with battle red died out the sinking sun,

And broad and vast beneath him lay a world for freedom won.

How died that victor? In the field with banners o’er him thrown,

With trumpets in his failing ear, by charging squadrons blown,

With scattered foemen flying fast and fearfully before him,

With shouts of triumph swelling round, and brave men bending o’er him?

Not on his fields of victory, nor in his council hall,

The worn and sorrowing leader heard the inevitable call.

Alone he perished in the land he saved from Slavery’s ban,

Maligned and doubted and denied, a broken-hearted man!

Now let the New World’s banners droop above the fallen chief,

And let the mountaineer’s dark eyes be wet with tears of grief!—

For slander’s sting, for envy’s hiss, for friendship hatred grown,

Can funeral pomp, and tolling bell, and priestly mass atone?—

Better to leave unmourned the dead, than wrong men while they live;

What if the strong man failed or erred, could not his own forgive?

O people freed by him, repent above your hero’s bier:

The sole resource of late remorse is now his tomb to rear!