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

Mexico: Queretaro


By John Godfrey Saxe (1816–1887)

NOT with a craven spirit he

Submitted to the harsh decree

That bade him die before his time,

Cut off in manhood’s golden prime,—

Poor Maximilian!

And some who marked his noble mien,

His dauntless heart, his soul serene,

Have deemed they saw a martyr die,

And chorused forth the solemn cry,

“Great Maximilian!”

Alas! Ambition was his sin;

He staked his life a throne to win;

Counted amiss the fearful cost

(As chiefs have done before),—and lost!

Rash Maximilian!

’T is not the victim’s tragic fate,

Nor calm endurance, makes him great;

Mere lust of empire and renown

Can never claim the martyr’s crown,

Brave Maximilian!

Alas! it fell, that, in thy aim

To win a sovereign’s power and fame,

Thy better nature lost its force,

And royal crimes disgraced thy course,

King Maximilian!

Alas! what ground for mercy’s plea

In his behalf, whose fell decree

Gave soldiers unto felons’ graves,

And freemen to the doom of slaves,—

Fierce Maximilian?

I loathe the rude, barbaric wrath

That slew thee in thy venturous path;

But “they who take,” thus saith the Lord,

“Shall also perish by the sword,”

Doomed Maximilian!

But, when I think upon the scene,—

Thy fearful fate, thy wretched queen,—

And mark how bravely thou didst die,

I breathe again the pitying sigh,

“Poor Maximilian!”