Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
 
Spain: Rio Verde
The Rio Verde
From the Spanish
 
        
Translated by Bishop Percy
  This wild oleander-fringed mountain-torrent is translated by Bishop Percy as a “gentle river with willowed shore”: assuredly the prelate never crossed it, as we have done, when swollen by a heavy rain; but as he said “green would not sound well,” what would he have done with the Red Sea? This river is one of sad recollections in the ballads of Spain. On the hills above, Alonzo de Aguilar, with the flower of Andalucian chivalry, was waylaid and put to death by El Feri of Benastapar.—Murray’s Handbook of Spain.

GENTLE river, gentle river,
  Lo, thy streams are stained with gore,
Many a brave and noble captain
  Floats along thy willowed shore.
 
All beside thy limpid waters,        5
  All beside thy sands so bright,
Moorish Chiefs and Christian Warriors
  Joined in fierce and mortal fight.
 
Lords and dukes and noble princes
  On thy fatal banks were slain:        10
Fatal banks that gave to slaughter
  All the pride and flower of Spain.
 
There the hero, brave Alonzo,
  Full of wounds and glory, died:
There the fearless Urdiales        15
  Fell a victim by his side.
 
Lo! where yonder Don Saavedra
  Through their squadrons slow retires;
Proud Seville, his native city,
  Proud Seville his worth admires.        20
 
Close behind a Renegado
  Loudly shouts with taunting cry:
“Yield thee, yield thee, Don Saavedra,
  Dost thou from the battle fly?
 
“Well I know thee, haughty Christian,        25
  Long I lived beneath thy roof;
Oft I ’ve in the lists of glory
  Seen thee win the prize of proof.
 
“Well I know thy aged parents,
  Well thy blooming bride I know;        30
Seven years I was thy captive,
  Seven years of pain and woe.
 
“May our prophet grant my wishes!
  Haughty chief, thou shalt be mine:
Thou shalt drink that cup of sorrow        35
  Which I drank when I was thine.”
 
Like a lion turns the warrior,
  Back he sends an angry glare:
Whizzing came the Moorish javelin,
  Vainly whizzing through the air.        40
 
Back the hero full of fury
  Sent a deep and mortal wound:
Instant sunk the Renegado,
  Mute and lifeless on the ground.
 
With a thousand Moors surrounded,        45
  Brave Saavedra stands at bay:
Wearied out, but never daunted,
  Cold at length the warrior lay.
 
Near him fighting great Alonzo
  Stout resists the Paynim bands;        50
From his slaughtered steed dismounted
  Firm entrenched behind him stands.
 
Furious press the hostile squadron,
  Furious he repels their rage:
Loss of blood at length enfeebles:        55
  Who can war with thousands wage!
 
Where yon rock the plain o’ershadows,
  Close beneath its foot retired,
Fainting sunk the bleeding hero,
  And without a groan expired.        60
 
 
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