|The ruins of the "new"
Ft. San Lorenzo, built to replace the wooden fort destroyed by
Morgan, sit high above the mouth of the Chagres River.
In colonial times, the Spanish built many open-air cliff-top forts of sun-baked brick, from the Caribbean to Guam and the Philippines. They were safe from the English shipboard cannons which could not aim that high.
By James Stanley Gilbert
Cloud-crested San Lorenzo guards
The Chagres' entrance still,
Tho' o'er each stone dense moss has grown,
And earth his moat doth fill.
His bastions, feeble with decay,
Steadfastly view the sea,
And sternly wait the certain fate
The ages shall decree.
His reservoir is filled with slime,
Where noxious insects breed;
Corroding rust its greedy lust
On shot and gun doth feed;
The moaning wind sobs dismally
Thro' crumbling port and hold;
The staring owl and reptile foul
Thrive on his donjon's mold.
Left there, a sentry lone to strive
Against some Morgan's crew—
To guard our wives and childrens' lives
Should the past itself renew;
To breast and buffet every storm,
To falter not nor fail;
His charge to keep; nor toil nor sleep
Against him to prevail.
Stills standeth San Lorenzo there,
Aye faithful at his post,
Tho' scoffing trees in every breeze
Their prime and vigor boast.
His garrison is but the shades
Of soldiers of the past,
But it pleaseth him, alone and grim,
To watch until the last!