James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

July 2

The Brooklyn at Santiago

By Wallace Rice (1859–1939)

’TWIXT clouded heights Spain hurls to doom

Ships staunch and brave,

Majestic, forth they flash and boom

Upon the wave.

El Morro raises eyes of hate

Far out to sea,

And speeds Cervera to his fate

With canonry.

The Brooklyn o’er the deep espies

His flame-wreathed side:

She sets her banners on the skies

In fearful pride.

On, to the harbor’s mouth of fire,

Fierce for the fray,

She darts, an eagle from his eyre,

Upon her prey.

She meets the brave Teresa there—

Sigh, sigh for Spain!—

And beats her clanging armor bare

With glittering rain.

The bold Vizcaya’s lightnings glance

Into the throng

Where loud the bannered Brooklyn chants

Her awful song.

Down swoops, in one tremendous curve,

Our Commodore;

His broadsides roll, the foemen swerve

Toward the shore.

In one great round his Brooklyn turns

And, girdling there

This side and that with glory, burns

Spain to despair.

Frightful in onslaught, fraught with fate

Her missiles hiss:

The Spaniard sees, when all too late,

A Nemesis.

The Oquendo’s diapason swells;

Then, torn and lame,

Her portholes turn to yawning wells,

Geysers of flame.

Yet fierce and fiercer breaks and cries

Our rifles’ dread:

The doomed Teresa shudders—lies

Stark with her dead.

How true the Brooklyn’s battery speaks

Eulate knows,

As the Vizcaya staggers, shrieks

Her horrent woes.

Sideward she plunges: nevermore

Shall Biscay feel

Her heart throb for the ship that wore

Her name in steel.

The Oquendo’s ports a moment shone,

As gloomed her knell;

She trembles, bursts—the ship is gone

Headlong to hell.

The fleet Colon in lonely flight—

Spain’s hope, Spain’s fear!—

Sees, and it lends her wings of fright,

Schley’s pennant near.

The fleet Colon scuds on alone—

God, how she runs!—

And ever hears behind her moan

The Brooklyn’s guns.

Our ruthless cannon o’er the flood

Roar and draw nigh;

Spain’s ensign stained with gold and blood,

Falls from on high.

The world she gave the World has passed—

Gone, with her power—

Dead, ’neath the Brooklyn’s thunderblast,

In one great hour.

The bannered Brooklyn! gallant crew,

And gallant Schley!

Proud is the flag his sailors flew

Along the sky.

Proud is his country: for each star

Our Union wears,

The fighting Brooklyn shows a scar—

So much he dares.

God save us war upon the seas;

But, if it slip,

Send such a chief, with men like these,

On such a ship!