The Ransom of Peru

by Eugene Lee-Hamilton

Eugene Lee-Hamilton

The conquered Inca to Pizarro said:

"I swear to fill this hall with virgin gold

As high as any Spaniard here can hold

His steel-gloved hand, if thou wilt spare my head.—

Then streamed the ingots from their rocky bed:

For weeks and weeks the tide of treasure roll'd

To reach the mark; but when the sum was told,

The victor only strangled him instead.

So, many have said to Fate: "If I may eat

Life's mere coarse bread, the ransom shall be pour'd

In rhymes of gold at thy victorious feet.—

But like Pizarro waiting for his hoard,

Fate gave them chains; and letting them complete

The glittering heap, then drew the strangling cord.

Last updated April 01, 2023