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

Mexico: Orizaba


By Richard Hengist Horne (1802–1884)

I SAW thee, Orizaba, in my youth,

Morn after morn,

When shot and shell bore death, and future ruth

To many a home forlorn.

And, after War’s revolting face

Faded before el Norte blast,

Ofttimes I hied me to thy mountain-base,

And, seated near thy swarthy village, framed

Some verses of a legend,—which I lost,

Drifting from place to place;

But now, from their dark lumber-nook reclaimed,

Upon the world’s wide ocean they are cast.

A slave in ancient Mexico

Tended a princess through the woods.

Rain suddenly rushed down in floods,

Till wind and darkness ruled below.

Into some wild-beasts’ cave the slave conveyed

His fainting charge, and soothed her wild affright;

Tore down great boughs to screen the royal maid,

And at her feet sat watchful through the night.

At dawn the tempest lulled, and cleared away:

They issued forth, and saw the first red ray

On Orizaba’s snows, above the cloud-racks gray.

They mark the crimsoning sunrise tinge

The clouds above that mountain peak,—

Like strong blood flushing passion’s cheek,—

Then take, below, a yeasty fringe,

Which opens out in many a streak

Of coming light and radiant smiles,—

An ocean-sky, with lovely isles,

Where silent billows flow, and break.

They watch the peak’s clear outline glow!

The clouds with hope’s new birthday yearn!

The palpitating silver snow

Glitters, then seems to blush and burn,

And snatch a robe of gleaming gold,

Its swelling bosom to enfold.

That virgin gold took fire before the rise

Of Orizaba’s sun,—whose wheel-spokes hurled

Beams that made heaven a furnace of all dyes,

Till life’s sustainer burst upon the world!

The slave and princess towards each other pressed,—

Each face was glorified,—each soul confessed!

“I love thee!” cried the slave,—and from that hour was blest.