High o'er the Andes' towering crest
The Storm King lined his hosts;
Came from out of East and West;
Swept from coast to coast
Frowning legions, thunder-borne,
Aflash their charging fore.
O'er the land flashed the storm;
Old Chagres' sullen roar
Down the valley to the plain
Came rumbling on, rumbling on.
High rose the flood o'er man-made bar;
The digger left his post,
And sent the warning near and far
That lives might not be lost.
High o'er the works came rushing flood;
The toiler army swore,
As on the heights it powerless stood,
Mocked by Old Chagres' roar.
An army thirty thousand strong;
Steam monsters at their beck;
A fretful, swearing, helpless throng;
Their mighty force a wreck.
Then ceased the thunder; shone the sun:
Fled onward to the sea
Surly Chagres, the battle won;
It's murmur seemed of glee.
It mocked the toilers on its way,
And tossed their dead ashore;
They found the victims of its play,
And looked, and softly swore.
As swiftly went as swiftly came the flood;
The Army swarmed below;
The toll was paid in gold and blood,
As conquered pay to foe.
Thus Chagres toys with might of man,
Unchained, but soon to feel
It's mighty, all-invading span
Gripped by stone and steel.
Grim the battle, and high the toll,
But man the victory gains.
He bows and gives the brute its dole --
Then binds the beast with chains.
from: Panama Roughneck
Ballads by John Hall, 1912
April 17, 1999
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