Poem by Juan Bautista Chapa, from the De León Expedition, 1689

Sad and fateful site
where prevails the dark of night
because misfortune’s whim
Brought thy people death so grim,
here alone I contemplate
thou epitome of fate,
of the inconstancy of life;
since in the fierceness of the strife
the cruel enemy pressed
his heartless hand upon thy breast,
upon thy innocence so mild,
Sprang not the smallest child.

O beautiful French maiden fair
who pressed sweet roses to your hair
and with thy snow-white hand
briefly touched the lily of the land
and with thy art perfection brought
Greek ladies now in profile wrought;
thy needlework made bright
the miseries of thy plight;
and now so cold, so dead,
these woods look down upon thy head;
but thou witherest not in vain,
art seen in death but not in pain.

And thou, cadaver, oh, so cold,
Who for a time did make so bold
And now consumed by wild beasts
Which upon thee made their feasts,
Tearfully I behold thee right;
Thou art example bright,
For everlasting glory won,
Transient from this life has gone
For celestial dwelling bound
Though pierced with such a wound.
Pray thee to the God eternal,
Spare us from the hell infernal.

The author of the poem, a Spaniard, adds the following rationalization to explain the massacre that occurred at the French settlement:

These are judgments of God, which we cannot investigate, but it seems also that [events of the massacre] are an admonition that Christians should not go directly against the bulls and mandates of the pontiffs. In that issued by Alexander VI in the year 1494 in favor of the King, Don Ferdinand, and Doña Isabella, he granted them all that the Spaniards had discovered in the West Indies, and all that they were yet to discover, with prohibition against their occupation by any other king under penalty of excommunication. It could be that because they [the French] had broken this precept, God visited this punishment on them.

(Published in Historia de Nuevo Leon, con Noticias Sobre Coahuila, Tejas, y Nuevo Mexico por El Capitan Alonso de Leon, Un Autor Anonimo [an anonymous author, now believed to be Juan Bautista Chapa].


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