Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
Spain: Tagus (Tajo), the River
The Prophecy of Tagus
Luis Ponce de León (1527–1591)
Translated by J. H. Wiffen

AS by Tagus’ billowy bed
  King Rodrigo, safe from sight,
With the Lady Cava fed
  On the fruit of loose delight,
From the river’s placid breast        5
  Slow its ancient Genius broke;
Of the scrolls of Fate possessed,
  Thus the frowning prophet spoke:
“In an evil hour dost thou,
  Ruthless spoiler, wanton here!        10
Shouts and clangors even now,
  Even now assail mine ear;
Shout, and sound of clashing shield,
  Shivered sword and rushing car,—
All the frenzy of the field!        15
  All the anarchy of war!
“O, what wail and weeping spring
  Forth from this thine hour of mirth,
From yon fair and smiling thing
  Who in evil day had birth!        20
In an evil day for Spain
  Plighted is your guilty troth!
Fatal triumph! costly gain
  To the sceptre of the Goth!
“Flames and furies, griefs and broils,        25
  Slaughter, ravage, fierce alarms,
Anguish and immortal toils,
  Thou dost gather to thine arms,—
For thyself and vassals,—those
  Who the fertile furrow break,        30
Where the stately Ebro flows,
  Who their thirst in Douro slake!
“For the throne, the hall, the bower,
  Murcian lord and Lusian swain,
For the chivalry and flower        35
  Of all sad and spacious Spain!
Prompt for vengeance, not for fame,
  Even now from Cadiz’ halls,
On the Moor, in Allah’s name,
  Hoarse the Count,—the Injured calls.        40
“Hark, how frightfully forlorn
  Sounds his trumpet to the stars,
Citing Afric’s desert-born
  To the gonfalon of Mars!
Lo, already loose in air        45
  Floats the standard, peals the gong;
They shall not be slow to dare
  Roderick’s wrath for Julian’s wrong.
“See, their spears the Arabs shake,
  Smite the wind, and war demand;        50
Millions in a moment wake,
  Join, and swarm o’er all the sand:
Underneath their sails the sea
  Disappears, a hubbub runs
Through the sphere of heaven alee,        55
  Clouds of dust obscure the sun’s.
“Swift their mighty ships they climb,
  Cut the cables, slip from shore;
How their sturdy arms keep time
  To the dashing of the oar!        60
Bright the frothy billows burn
  Round their cleaving keels, and gales
Breathed by Eolus astern,
  Fill their deep and daring sails.
“Sheer across Alcides’ strait        65
  He whose voice the floods obey,
With the trident of his state,
  Gives the grand Armada way.—
In her sweet, subduing arms,
  Sinner! dost thou slumber still,        70
Dull and deaf to the alarms
  Of this loud inrushing ill?
“In the hallowed Gadite bay
  Mark them mooring from the main
Rise, take horse, away! away!        75
  Scale the mountain, scour the plain
Give not pity to thy hand,
  Give not pardon to thy spur,
Dart abroad thy flashing brand,
  Bare thy fatal cimeter!        80
“Agony of toil and sweat
  The sole recompense must be
Of each horse and horseman yet,
  Plumeless serf and plumed grandee.
Sullied is thy silver flow,        85
  Stream of proud Sevilla, weep!
Many a broken helm shalt thou
  Hurry to the bordering deep.
“Many a turban and tiar,
  Moor and Noble’s slaughtered corse        90
Whilst the Furies of the war
  Gore your ranks with equal loss!
Five days you dispute the field;
  When ’t is sunrise on the plains,—
O loved land! thy doom is sealed,        95
  Madden, madden in thy chains!”

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.