The Bugle in Literature: The Call of the Bugles

The Bugle in Literature: The Call of the Bugles

The Call of the Bugles

By William Vaughn Moody

william_vaughn_moody

BUGLES!

And the Great Nation thrills and leaps to arms!

Prompt, unconstrained, immediate,

Without misgiving and without debate,

Too calm, too strong for fury or alarms,

The people blossoms armies and puts forth

The splendid summer of its noiseless might;

For the old sap of fight

Mounts up in South and North,

The thrill

That tingled in our veins at Bunker Hill

And brought to bloom July of ’Seventy-Six!

Pine and palmetto mix

With the sequoia of the giant West

Their ready banners, and the hosts of war

Near and far,

Sudden as dawn,

Innumerable as forests, hear the call

Of the bugles,

The battle-birds!

For not alone the brave, the fortunate,

Who first of all

Have put their knapsacks on—

They are the valiant vanguard of the rest!—

Not they alone, but all our millions wait,

Hand on sword,

For the word

That bids them bid the nations know us sons of Fate.

 

Bugles!

And in my heart a cry,

—Like a dim echo far and mournfully

Blown back to answer them from yesterday!

A soldier’s burial!

November hillsides and the falling leaves

Where the Potomac broadens to the tide—

The crisp autumnal silence and the gray

(As of a solemn ritual

Whose congregation glories as it grieves,

Widowed but still a bride)—

The long hills sloping to the wave,

And the lone bugler standing by the grave!

 

Taps!

The lonely call over the lonely woodlands—

Rising like the soaring of wings,

Like the flight of an eagle—

Taps!

They sound forever in my heart.

From farther still,

The echoes—still the echoes!

The bugles of the dead

Blowing from spectral ranks an answering cry!

The ghostly roll of immaterial drums,

Beating reveille in the camps of dream,

As from far meadows comes,

Over the pathless hill,

The irremeable stream.

I hear the tread

Of the great armies of the Past go by;

I hear,

Across the wide sea wash of years between,

Concord and Valley Forge shout back from the unseen,

And Vicksburg give a cheer.

 

Our cheer goes back to them, the valiant dead!

Laurels and roses on their graves to-day,

Lilies and laurels over them we lay,

And violets o’er each unforgotten head.

Their honor still with the returning May

Puts on its springtime in our memories,

Nor till the last American with them lies

Shall the young year forget to strew their bed.

Peace to their ashes, sleep and honored rest!

But we—awake!

Ours to remember them with deeds like theirs!

From sea to sea the insistent bugle blares,

The drums will not be still for any sake;

And as an eagle rears his crest,

Defiant, from some tall pine of the North,

And spreads his wings to fly,

The banners of America go forth

Against the clarion sky.

Veteran and volunteer,

They who were comrades of that shadow host,

And the young brood whose veins renew the fires

That burned in their great sires,

Alike we hear

The summons sounding clear

From coast to coast,—

The cry of the bugles,

The battle-birds!

 

Bugles!

The imperious bugles!

Still their call

Soars like an exaltation to the sky.

They call on men to fall,

To die,—

Remembered or forgotten, but a part

Of the great beating of the Nation’s heart!

A call to sacrifice!

A call to victory!

Hark, in the Empyrean

The battle-birds!

The bugles!