African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

James Ephraim McGirt, "Siege of Santiago" (1900)


Here Spain's dreaded host did stand,
The strongest fort in all the land;
When we entered into the bay
The eves of the world were turned that way,
Watèhing breathless, eager to see
What the issue of the fight would be.
Morro Castle was standing bold,
As it did in days of old.
Its deadly guns seemed to say,
“I'll hold the entrance of the way.”
A pleasant morning, a Sabbath day.
We were resting within the bay,
Soon our day of peace did change.
It proved a day for our revenge.
Sampson's heart did eager yearn
Cevera's secret plans to learn;
Schley, he sent to the upper shore
If the plans he might explore.
This somehow seems divine,
He sailed just at the proper time;
On their way to their surprise,
Two coming vessels met their eyes.

Through glasses we began to peep,
Behold! It was Сevera's fleet,
Rushing toward us in swiftest speed;
Two fierce boats were in the lead :
“Cevera's escaping!" Schley cried.
He rang the signal far and wide;
But before the story he could tell
The air was filled with fire and shell,
Shells that were not sent in vain;
It proved a direful fate to Spain.
Their ships in flames of fire were blazed-
Till we on them in pity gazed,
And sent a boat in chivalry's name
To save them from the burning flame.
Their direful fate's too great to tell,
To them it proved a fiery hell.
Schley gazing out from left to right,
To him it seemed a dreadful sight;
Ships were blazing on every side,
“We have revenge,” he quickly cried.
Many Spaniards on that day
Were burned and buried in the bay.

Published in Avenging the Maine, 1900

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