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

Richard E.S. Toomey, "Allegory: The Battle of Manila -- The First of May" (1901)

 As Though moved by some high behest, 
 Its country's glory e'er its quest, 
 An eagle bold its wings unfurled, 
 Betook itself to view the world. 
 With easy grace, unruffled mien, 
 Its royal pinions oft were seen 
 As though each recess it would probe 
 In every quarter of the globe. 
 From basking in the western sun, 
 The South Sea isles it looked upon; 
 Passed by the land which cradled art, 
 O'er seas through which the simoons dart; 
 Came to the lands that nourish teas, 
 And hovered 'mid the China seas. 
 In equal days, from eastern lands 
 A vulture soars, its crest expands; 
And as it snuffs the salty breeze 
 It scents, from far across the seas, 
 The nauseous odors of a feast 
 By human misery increased. 
 This rancid feast, in times afore, 
 Had satisfied the rapacious maw 
 Of this ill-omened, filthy bird. 
 The putrid odor quickly stirred, 
 Within this ill-starred fowl, its taste, 
 And with unseemly, lustful haste, 
 It plumed its great ungainly wings — 
 No pity at the prospect stings. 
 It spurns the shore, directs its course, 
 And hastens o'er the watery bourse 
 To where were happening direful scenes - 
 The islands of the Philippines. 
 Near China's land now restful stays 
 The western bird of royal ways; 
 A neutral, frigid air it feels, 
 But through its frame just feeling steals; 
 Responding quick to China's pleas, 
 It straightway flies to other seas. 
 As nearing Isle I,uzon, the fair, 
 There's borne upon the ambient air 
 Most direful signs of misery. 
 To Manila it turns to see 
The cause; beholds the natives poor 
 Grasped in a vulture's cruel claw 
 Which, dank, as from some gory flood, 
 Is reeking, red, with human blood. 
 The spirit which we know so well, 
 Roused as by a magic spell, 
 Filled to the full the feathered king — 
 New impulse lent unto its wing. 
 The vulture, struck with sudden dread, 
 Beholds close hovering o'er its head 
 The king of birds, of which it heard, 
 Yet ne'er before believed a word; 
 But though abashed, it sought to face 
 (With the audacity of its race) 
 With cruel mien, yet faulty mind, 
 The royal king of all its kind. 
 The eagle clasped the bird, gore-filled; 
 Such terror through its frame distilled, 
 That from it soon its meal is torn, 
 Of wings and beak it soon is shorn. 
 These, quick as do the lightning's glance, 
 Are scattered o'er the broad expanse. 
 As from the shore the oppressed gaze 
 (Their eyes aglow with glad amaze) 
 And view the conflict from afar, 
 As meteor or a fallen star, 

They see their vampire sink in blood, 
 The eagle blaze out like a god. 
 From beneath capacious wings 
 A banner to the breeze it flings. 
 Lengthwise show the alternate bars, 
 While at its top are seen the stars; 
 Above the erstwhile battle's roar 
 The royal bird is seen to soar 
 And gaze, with bold and dauntless eyes, 
 Full in the face of eastern skies. 
 Hark! Strikes the ear a thrilling sound 
 Which fills with gladness all around, 
 As from its throat there comes a cry 
 That joy evokes in every eye; 
 The cry sounds forth the immortal name 
 Born this day to undying fame: 
 Dewey! Dewey!! Dewey!!! Dewey!!! 

Published in Richard E.S. Toomey, Thoughts for True Americans, 1901

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