La Bejarena

Written by: Roy Jerden

La Béjareña

Oh sweet Angel of Jesus, wherefore lies your grave?
Your blood that is of Navarro, that Corsican so brave
She was a proud Tejana, such a beauty once they say
That enchanted Santa Anna, so far back in the day

On fairy feet she floated in Béjar’s promenade
Like radiating moonbeams her beauty was conveyed
Mantilla and peineta in the latest Spanish style
Caballeros peacocked near her, each hoping for a smile

But for noble Béjar maidens, any glancing was taboo
Except for caballeros that her family nodded to
A curtsey and a flourished bow were the courtly ways
Of greeting one another back in those golden days

Such a fine tradition was the Béjar promenade 
To the Veramendi Palace, perhaps a masquerade
Or to dance a light fandango by the river’s perfumed air
All seemed much more beautiful when close to one so fair

Those were the days of wonder, when Béjar was so sweet
Before the revolution, and the Alamo’s defeat
Before some Anglos came to take with gun and Negro slave
The land that brave Tejanos had bled and died to save

Béjar was filled with drunkards, and rogues of every kind
No promenade was possible in streets so unrefined
And over near the Alamo, where freedom’s price was dear
The price was now determined by the slavery auctioneer

And yet one Anglo gentleman, a major in the war
Touched with noble chivalry, and the ways of a señor
The captured despot’s life did save, upon that victory day
From those who would have hanged the knave, down San Jacinto way

The moment that she met him, in the formal Spanish style
And looked into his honest eyes without a trace of guile
And read his soul so brave and pure, it seemed that time stood still
As nature linked their hearts as one, according to its will

A thousand days of happiness, a thousand days of bliss
Were all that God would grant them both before their final kiss
She laid her hero in his grave, and took their son in hand
And thought of how to speak to him and make him understand

Her gentle eyes had lost their shine; her hair was touched with gray
They wed her to the Dunker man, who took her far away
He never knew her sorrow, he never knew her soul
Inside her lonely citadel of iron self-control

He left her for another wife, and cast them all aside
But a mother’s duty to her sons would never be denied
And at the age of fifty-six, the time at last arrived
When she could welcome willingly the deadly reaper’s scythe

Oh sweet Angel of Jesus, wherefore lies your grave?
Your blood that is of Navarro, that Corsican so brave
By the village of Las Moras, down Rio Bravo way?
No one seems to know for sure, unto this very day

Oh, sons of Navarro!  Let not that Béjar rose
Lie with the dust of strangers, where no one ever goes
Join her with her heart's true love, on acres gently blessed
With shady hills below pecans, where heroes go to rest

Notes:
This historical poem is about one of my HS classmate's Tejano (in the original 
sense) ancestors from the time of the Texas Revolution and the story is told 
from that perspective.

The main characters are not named in the poem intentionally, and place names 
are the old Spanish ones, but I will share with you the names of the 
protagonist and her true love, in case you are interested in reading about 
them. Her name was Angela de Jesus Maria Blasa Navarro. She was the niece of 
Juan Antonio Navarro, one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of 
Independence and a member of the important Navarro family of Bejar, present 
day San Antonio. She married William Gordon Cooke, one of the heroes of the 
Texas revolution, who is buried on Republic Hill at the Texas State cemetery 
along with other notables. Angela was buried near Brackettville, originally called 
Las Moras.


The Dunker man was Angela's 2nd husband, Abraham Geiger Martin. He was a 
member of the German Baptist Brethren church, nicknamed Dunkers because 
they practiced full body baptism, but required three full immersions before you 
were properly baptized. Apparently the marriage was a total failure and he 
divorced her, leaving her to raise his son and William Cooke's son alone.