What say the Bells of San Blas To the ships that southward pass From the harbor of Mazatlan? To them it is nothing more Than the sound of surf on the shore,-- Nothing more to master or man. But to me, a dreamer of dreams, To whom what is and what seems Are often one and the same,-- The Bells of San Blas to me Have a strange, wild melody, And are something more than a name. For bells are the voice of the church; They have tones that touch and search The hearts of young and old; One sound to all, yet each Lends a meaning to their speech, And the meaning is manifold. They are a voice of the Past, Of an age that is fading fast, Of a power austere and grand, When the flag of Spain unfurled Its folds o'er this western world, And the Priest was lord of the land. The chapel that once looked down On the little seaport town Has crumbled into the dust; And on oaken beams below The bells swing to and fro, And are green with mould and rust. "Is, then, the old faith dead," They say, "and in its stead Is some new faith proclaimed, That we are forced to remain Naked to sun and rain, Unsheltered and ashamed? "Once, in our tower aloof, We rang over wall and roof Our warnings and our complaints; And round about us there The white doves filled the air, Like the white souls of the saints. "The saints! Ah, have they grown Forgetful of their own? Are they asleep, or dead, That open to the sky Their ruined Missions lie, No longer tenanted? "Oh, bring us back once more The vanished days of yore, When the world with faith was filled; Bring back the fervid zeal, The hearts of fire and steel, The hands that believe and build. "Then from our tower again We will send over land and main Our voices of command, Like exiled kings who return To their thrones, and the people learn That the Priest is lord of the land!" O Bells of San Blas in vain Ye call back the Past again; The Past is deaf to your prayer! Out of the shadows of night The world rolls into light; It is daybreak everywhere.
- by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882), "The bells of San Blas", appears in In the Harbor: Ultima Thule - Part II, first published 1882 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)
- by Francis Boott (1813 - 1904), "The bells of San Blas", published 1882. [vocal quartet of equal voices and piano] [text not verified]
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
This text was added to the website: 2008-06-02
Line count: 66
Word count: 387