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

Mexico: Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) del Norte

Rio Bravo

By Charles Fenno Hoffman (1806–1884)


RIO Bravo! Rio Bravo!

Saw men ever such a sight,

Since the field of Roncesvalles

Sealed the fate of many a knight?

Dark is Palo Alto’s story,

Sad Resaca Palma’s rout:

On those fatal fields so gory

Many a gallant life went out.

There our best and bravest lances,

Shivered ’gainst the Northern steel,

Left the valiant hearts that couched them

’Neath the Northern charger’s heel.

Rio Bravo! Rio Bravo!

Minstrel ne’er knew such a fight,

Since the field of Roncesvalles

Sealed the fate of many a knight.

Rio Bravo, fatal river!

Saw ye not, while red with gore,

Torrejon all headless quiver,

A ghastly trunk upon thy shore?

Heard you not the wounded coursers,

Shrieking on your trampled banks,

As the Northern winged artillery

Thundered on our shattered ranks?

There Arista, best and bravest,

There Raguena, tried and true,

On the fatal field thou lavest,

Nobly did all men could do.

Vainly there those heroes rally,

Castile on Montezuma’s shore.

“Rio Bravo”—“Roncesvalles,”

Ye are names blent evermore.

Weepest thou, lorn lady Inez,

For thy lover mid the slain?

Brave La Vega’s trenchant falchion

Cleft his slayer to the brain.

Brave La Vega, who, all lonely,

By a host of foes beset,

Yielded up his sabre only,

When his equal there he met.

Other champions not less noted

Sleep beneath that sullen wave;

Rio Bravo! thou hast floated

An army to an ocean grave.

On they came, those Northern horsemen,

On like eagles toward the sun;

Followed then the Northern bayonet,

And the field was lost and won.

Oh for Orlando’s horn to rally

His Paladins on that sad shore!

“Rio Bravo”—“Roncesvalles,”

Ye are names blent evermore.