Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TECUMSEH AND THE EAGLES, by BLISS CARMAN

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TECUMSEH AND THE EAGLES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Tecumseh of the shawnees
Last Line: "ye will have lived in vain!"
Variant Title(s): The War Cry Of The Eagles
Subject(s): Freedom; World War I - Canada; Liberty


TECUMSEH of the Shawnees
He dreamed a noble dream,—
A league to hold their freedom old
And make their peace supreme.
He drew the tribes together
And bound them to maintain
Their sacred pact to stand and act
For common good and gain.


The eagles taught Tecumseh
The secret of their clan,—
A way to keep o'er plain and steep
The liberty of Man.
The champions of freedom
They may not weary soon,
Nor lay aside in foolish pride
The vigilance of noon.

Those teachers of Tecumseh
Were up to meet the dawn,
To scan the light and hold the height
Till the last light was gone.
Like specks upon the azure,
Their guards patrolled the sky,
To mount and plain and soar again
And give the warning cry.

They watched for lurking perils,
The death that skulks and crawls,
To take by stealth their only wealth
On wind-swept mountain walls.
They did not trust the shadows
That sleep upon the hill;
Where menace hid, where cunning slid,
They struck—and struck to kill.

Through lonely space unmeasured
They laid their sentry rings,
Till every brood in eyrie rude
Was shadowed by their wings.
Tecumseh watched the eagles
In summer o'er the plain,
And learned their cry, "If freedom die,
Ye will have lived in vain!"


The vision of Tecumseh,
It could not long endure;
He lacked the might to back the right
And make his purpose sure.
Tecumseh and his people
Are gone; they could not hold
Their league for good; their brotherhood
Is but a tale that's told.


The eagles of Tecumseh
Still hold their lofty flight,
And guard their own on outposts lone,
Across the fields of light.
They hold their valiant instinct
And know their right of birth,
They do not cede their pride of breed
For things of little worth.

They see on earth below them,
Where time is but a breath,
Another race brought face to face
With liberty or death.
Above a thousand cities
A new day is unfurled,
And still on high those watchers cry
Their challenge o'er the world.

Where patriots are marching
And battle flags are borne,
To South and North their cry goes forth
To rally and to warn.
From border unto border,
They wheel and cry again
That master cry, "If freedom die,
Ye will have lived in vain!"

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