Lament For Apodocca [Poem]

By A.D. Russell

Oh, Abercromby sailed the sea,
With Harvey at his side,
Until they came to Trinity,
Upon the weltering tide.
They sailed in at the Dragon's Mouth,
By Madam Teteron's Rock-a,
And there in Chaguaramas Bay,
They came on Apodocca.

Oh, Apodocca sleeps so sound.
Who'll waken Apodocca?

"Up, up, my lads! 'Tis broad daylight,
This is no time for slumber;
Here be our dreaded foes in sight.
And more than thrice our number.
'Tis vain to fly, to fight is vain;
Was ever such a sore fix?
Their ships are all about us here,
And twenty-four to our six."

Oh, Apodocca slept so sound,
Who's wakened Apodocca?

What means yon flush across the hills?
What means yon murky veil?
'Tis not the red of immortelles,
'Tis not the rain clouds' trail.
The landscape fair is darkened o'er,
The hills are in eclipse ;
"To save them from our hands, my lads,
The Spaniard 's burnt his ships! "

Oh, Apodocca's wide awake,
You won't catch Apodocca !

p. 81

What s brighter than the levin-brand?
What's louder than the thunder ?
'Tis Spain's proud flagship blowing up,
Her timbers rent asunder.
She sinks, her Admiral sinks with her,
He's flung his life away . . . .
Now he sleeps sound (as he was wont),
In Chaguaramas Bay !

Oh, Apodocca sleeps so sound,
Who'll waken Apodocca?


Were falsification ever admissible in art — a supposition
which personally we deny — it would doubtless be for the
purpose of heightening actual events. That is what Scribbler
tries to do here.

French privateers had been making the West Indies un-
pleasant for English merchantmen. England, therefore, sent
out a considerable fleet, to which the Spanish fleet and land
forces could make no effective resistance. Under the circum-
stances, Admiral Apodocca burnt his ships, to prevent their
falling into the enemy's bands, and Governor Chacon surrendered
the island. Tried by Council of War in Spain, both were
honourably acquitted.

Something dignified, something majestic, we conceive,
could have been made out of these facts. The unruffled Chacon,
the impetuous Apodocca — burning with fury, then burning
his ships; how fine a contrast for artistic delineation!

What does Scibbler do? He makes Admiral Apodocca
blow himself up in his flag-ship. Why? To heighten the
effect, to give him a fictitious instead of a real heroism. — But
hullo! What is here?

"Apodocca sleeps so sound, who'll waken Apodocca?"

A sluggard and a hero at the same time! What kind of
combination is that?

p. 82

When I spoke to Scribbler about it, he explained to me
that Spaniards were brave by universal consensus; but that
by universal consensus, also, they were indolent. Manana,
. That was their motto . . . .

I feel inclined to write "A Lament for Mr. Scribbler." I
should be much more comfortable, were he here to enjoy
personally any attentions which may be going. — The Spanish
element in the island is still a thing to be reckoned with.

"Abercromby, Harvey." Sir Ralph Abercromby, K.B., and
Rear-Admiral Harvey commanded respectively the land and
naval forces employed. — The Capitulation was signed 18th
February, 1797.

"Immortelle." A tall tree planted to shade cocoa. In
December it sheds its leaves, and from then on to February
is ablaze with vivid red flowers. Wax-like and delicate.
Gorgeous ! There is no other expression to describe the effect.
Cocoa-growing districts, such as Montserrat, are luminous for
miles around.

p. 83

SOURCE: Legends of the Bocas, Trinidad. By A.D. Russell, London: Cecil Palmer, 1922. pp. 81-83

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!