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

South America: Gallo, the Island, Ecuador

Crossing the Line

By Charlotte Fiske Bates (1838–1916)

PIZARRO’S crimes of perfidy and blood,

So largely due to training, time, and race,

Obscure the brilliance of the hero still;

Yet once, at least, immortally he stood,

Sublime in utterance, sublime in will,

While looking awful Peril in the face.

He calls his men, and at the leader’s word,

Their presence answers quick, though sore depressed.

All further ventures would they now resign,

But lo! Pizarro traces with his sword

Along drear Gallo’s sand the telling line

From west to east, and thus his band addressed:—

“On that side, comrades, toil and hunger wait,

Battle and death,—for some their lives must lose,—

On this side, truly, safety lies,—but ah!

On that, the glory of a splendid state,

On this but poverty and Panama.

Now, as becomes the brave Castilian, choose!

“As for myself, I go towards the south;

Let who will follow!” and he passed that bound

Like Rubicon, enduring, though in sand!

Spurred by the doughty foot and daring mouth,

Then followed thirteen of his little band;

The die was cast,—at length Peru was found!

When powers that serve thee, flag, since foiled so long,

Summon them, soul! Draw what Pizarro drew;

Point to that land of riches, this of lack;

Speak as he spake, then cross the line as strong,

Leaving poor Panama behind thy back,

To find at last the glory of Peru!