Speak and tell us, our Ximena, looking northward far away,
O'er the camp of the invaders, o'er the Mexican array,
Who is losing? who is winning? are they far or come they near?
Look abroad, and tell us, sister, whither rolls the storm we hear.
"Down the hills of Angostura still the storm of battle rolls;
Blood is flowing, men are dying; God have mercy on their souls!"
Who is losing? who is winning?—"Over hill and over plain,
I see but smoke of cannon clouding through the mountain rain."
Nearer came the storm and nearer, rolling fast and frightful on!
Speak, Ximena, speak and tell us, who has lost and who has won!
"Alas! alas! I know not; friend and foe together fall;
O'er the dying rush the living: pray, my sisters, for them all!
Dry thy tears, my poor Ximena; lay thy dear one down to rest;
Let his hands be meekly folded, lay the cross upon his breast;
Let his dirge be sung hereafter, and his funeral masses said:
To-day, thou poor bereaved one, the living ask thy aid.
Close beside her, faintly moaning, fair and young, a soldier lay,
Torn with shot and pierced with lances, bleeding slow his life away;
But, as tenderly before him the lorn Ximena knelt,
She saw the Northern eagle shining on his pistol-belt.
With a stifled cry of horror straight she turned away her head;
With a sad and bitter feeling looked she back upon her dead;
But she heard the youth's low moaning, and his struggled breath of pain,
And she raised the cooling water to his parching lips again.
Look forth once more, Ximena!" "Like a cloud before the wind
Rolls the battle down the mountains, leaving blood and death behind;
Ah! they plead in vain for mercy; in the dust the wounded strive;
Hide your faces, holy angels! Oh, thou Christ of God, forgive!"
Sink, O Night, among thy mountains; let thy cool, gray shadows fall;
Dying brothers, fighting demons—drop they curtain over all!
Through the quickening winter twilight, wide apart the battle rolled;
In his sheath the sabre rested, and the cannon's lips grew cold.
But the holy Mexic women still their holy task pursued,
Through that long, dark night of sorrow, worn and faint, and lacking food;
Over the weak and suffering brothers with a tender care they hung,
And they dying foeman blessed them in a strange and Northern tongue.
Not wholly lost, O Father, is this evil world of ours;
Upward through its blood and ashes spring afresh the Eden flowers.