Just off Manila’s lighted port,
*Corr’gidor and Cabilla lay,
And sentinel like each island, armed,
Kept watch at the mouth of the bay;
While cross each narrow neck between
The mainland and its guardian isle,
A chain of mines were hung unseen
To make our ships a funeral pile-
Between the isles a current swept
And sped unchecked a spreading sheet,
Beyond, an island city slept
Protected by the Spanish fleet,
And on the bay black night was King,
The winds were strolling toward the lea:
Our men-of-war like birds on wing
Were speeding o’er the China sea.
'Twas midnight by the Eastern clocks,
Strong batteries guarded the seas,
Manilla shone in lighted blocks
And the Spaniards were at their ease
No man of sense, the captain thought,
Would clinch with death to enter there;
But Dewey brave, our hero, wrought
A deed none other man would dare.
For like the winds on wings of night,
He swept the secret passage way
With ships and men prepared to fight
As his fleet put into the bay.
Just then the drowsy iles awoke
And spied, it seems, the phantom floats,
And thunder like their voices spoke
With roaring flames from cannon throats
Manilla ’woke from slumber sweet,
A frightened queen in robes of night,
And rushed into the drowsy street,
Producing pamic in her flight.
The winds helped bear the fleeting skirts,
The streets echoed the sounding tread
Till forth upon the eastern sky
The sun its golden glory spread.
And Sunday morn beheld our fleet
In haste a steaming to the fray.
While from each yawing cannon mouth
Was bursting judgment on the bay.
The Spanish fleet and batteries loud
Spat out their flames the waters o’er
While from our ships with pennons proud,
Came one reverberating roar.
A cloud of smoke spread o’er the bay
And thro’ it loud the thunders crashed:
Beneath it was the shimm’ring sea,
Resplendent as the lightning flashed.
Terrific shells, hot thunder bolts,
From Yankee cannon’s deadly pour,
Burst flaming o’er the Spaniard’s decks
And made them slippery with gore.
Old Spanish hulks were raised on high
And poised were they the waters o’er,
Their magazines lit up the sky
And frightened gunboats dashed ashore.
Then all was still, the smoking cloud
Went up from o’er the judgment seat
And coiled its sombre glory round
The flags of our victorious fleets.
Published in Jessamine Poems, 1900