Santa Anna came storming, as a storm might come;
There was rumble of cannon; there was rattle of blade;
There was cavalry, infantry, bugle and drum--
Full seven proud thousand in pomp and parade,
The chivalry, flower of all Mexico;
And a gaunt two hundred in the Alamo!
And thirty lay sick, and some were shot through;
For the siege had been bitter, and bloody and long.
"Surrender or die!"--"Men, what will you do?"
And Travis, great Travis, drew sword, quick and strong;
Drew a line at his feet ... Will you come? Will you go?
I die with my wounded, in the Alamo."
Then Bowie gasped, "Guide me over that line!"
Then Crockett, one hand to the stick, one hand to his gun,
Crossed with him; then never a word or a sign,
Till all, sick or well, all, all save but one,
One man. Then a woman stopped praying and slow
Across, to die with the heroes of the Alamo.
Then that one coward fled, in the night, in that night
When all men silently prayed and thought
Of home; of tomorrow; of God and the right,
Till dawn; then Travis sent his single last cannon-shot,
In answer to insolent Mexico,
From the old bell-tower of the Alamo.
Then came Santa Anna; a crescent of flame!
Then the red escalade; then the fight hand to hand;
Such an unequal fight as never had name
Since the Persian hordes butchered that doomed Spartan band.
All day--all day and all night, and the morning, so slow,
Through the battle smoke mantling the Alamo.
Then silence! Such silence! Two thousand lay dead
In a crescent outside! And within? Not a breath
Save the gasp of a woman, with gory, gashed head,
All alone, with her dead there, waiting for death;
And she but a nurse. Yet when shall we know
Another like this of the Alamo?
Shout "Victory, victory, victory ho!"
I say, 'tis not always with the hosts that win:
I say that the victory, high or low,
Is given the hero who grapples with sin,
Or legion or single; just asking to know
When duty fronts death in his Alamo.