Tecumseh's Reveille

by Joseph Ignatius Constantine Clarke

Joseph Ignatius Constantine Clarke

Thou didst write these words with thine own hand
"Remind me early in May
Of my promise to be with our boys in blue
When they march on Memory's day."
Alas, but the plumes are nodding
Of soldiers about thy bier!
Alas, but the crowds stand silent,
And the dirge falls dead on the ear!
Alas, but the trumps are sounding
"Retreat" before May is here!
Yet there is thy promise, as clear to me
As if voiced by a hundred guns,
And I know at the sound of our reveille
Thou wilt answer, "Ready, my sons!"
But where shall the call be sounded
When the trees are abud in May,
To pierce to the ears of the spirit
And quicken again his clay?
Shall it be where his legions battled
As he marched from the mount to the sea?
Shall it be where he bore our banner
And the graves of our foemen be?
Shall it be where he stood triumphant
As his cannon went rumbling by,
And his hundred thousand bayonets
Flashed back to the Southern sky,
And the cries of joy over treason dead
Made a chorus that will not die?
No, not alone where thy mailed hand fell
When "smite" was the true man's word:
The balm is poured where swept thy sword,
There is peace where the war-winds stirred,
There are sounds as calm as the vesper bell
Where the battle for Union roared.
So, east and west in the pearly morn,
Yea, north and south at dawn
Of a day in May
When the buds are new,
When the month is newly born,
Let the silver trumpets clear and true
At the lips of the brave be blown--
The Union's children of brain and brawn
Till a thrill through the Nation runs,
And I know at the blast of that reveille
He will answer, "Ready, my sons!"
Then, when we gather to deck the graves
Of the Union dead, we'll know
That Sherman is watching us marching past
Neath our flag with its stars aglow
The flag that blesses, the flag that saves,
The flag he bore through the battle blast
In the face of the Union's foe.
And his soul will abide by his pledge to the end
To stand at the great review,
When far in the past all the war drums blend
To a single faint tattoo.
But if ever a foe lifts hostile hand,
Then louder than Sumter's guns
Will ring through the breadth of the Union land
His rally-call, "Ready, my sons!"

Last updated January 14, 2019