Drum Taps

Song Cycle by (Robert) Ernest Bryson (1867 - 1942)

?. Lo, the moon ascending [sung text not yet checked]

The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
   Down a new-made double grave. 

   Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
   Immense and silent moon. 

   I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they are flooding,
   As with voices and with tears. 

   I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
   Strikes me through and through. 

   For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans son and father dropt together,
   And the double grave awaits them.) 

   And nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o'er the pavement quite has faded,
   And the strong dead-march enwraps me. 

   In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd,
('Tis some mother's large transparent face,
   In heaven brighter growing.) 

   O strong dead-march you please me! 
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me! 
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial! 
   What I have I also give you. 

   The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
   My heart gives you love.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Race of veterans [sung text not yet checked]

World, take good notice, silver stars fading,
Milky hue ript, weft of white detaching,
Coals thirty-eight, baleful and burning,
Scarlet, significant, hands off warning,
Now and henceforth flaunt from these shores.

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?. A sight in camp [sung text not yet checked]

A sight in camp in the daybreak grey and dim,
As from my tent I emerge so early, sleepless,
As slow I walk in the cool fresh air
the path near by the hospital tent,
Three forms I see on stretchers lying,
brought out there untended lying,
Over each the blanket spread,
ample brownish woollen blanket,
Grey and heavy blanket, folding, covering all.
Curious I halt and silent stand,
Then with light fingers I
from the face of the nearest,
the first, just lift the blanket;
Who are you, elderly man so gaunt and grim,
with well-grey'd hair, and flesh all sunken about the eyes?
Who are you my dear comrade?
Then to the second I step -
and who are you my child and darling?
Who are you sweet boy with cheeks yet blooming?
Then to the third - a face nor child nor old,
very calm, as of beautiful yellow-white ivory;
Young man I think I know you -
I think this face is the face of Christ Himself,
Dead and divine and brother of all,
and here again He lies.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
Total word count: 454