The Conquistador Reading

This poet used the account of the Conquest, “True History of the Conquest of New Spain”, by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, who accompanied Cortes, to write an epic poem.


By Archibald MacLeish

"The Argument"

Of that world’s conquest and the fortunate wars:

Of the great report and expectation of honor:
How in their youth they stretched sail: how fared they

Westward under the wind: by wave wandered:
Shoaled ship at the last at the ends of ocean:
How they were marching in the lands beyond:

Of the difficult ways there were and the winter’s snow:
Of the city they found in the good lands: how they lay in it:
How there was always the leaves and the days going:

Of the fear they had in their hearts for their lives’ sake:
How there was neither the night nor the day sure: and the
Gage they took for their guard: and how evil came of it:

How they were dead and driven and endured:
How they returned with arms in the wet month:
How they destroyed that city: and the gourds were

Bitter with blood: and they made their roofs with the gun stocks:

Of that world’s conquest and the fortunate wars….