Ballads : patriotic & romantic
Clinton Scollard
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Page  10

THE RIDE OF TENCH TILGHMAN

THEY'VE marched them out of old Yorktown, the vanquished red-coat host, —
The grenadiers and fusiliers, Great Britain's pride and boast;
They've left my Lord Cornwallis sitting gnawing at his nails,
With pale chagrin from brow to chin that grim defeat prevails.
Their banners cased, in sullen haste their pathway they pursue
Between the lilied lines of France, the boys in Buff and Blue;
At last their arms away are cast, with muttering and frown,
The while the drums roll out the tune
The World Turned Upside Down!
It's up, Tench Tilghman, you must ride,
Yea, you must ride straightway,
And bear to all the countryside
The glory of this day,
Crying amain the glad refrain,
This word by field and town, —
"Cornwallis' ta'en! Cornwallis' ta'en!
The World Turned Upside Down!"
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Roused Williamsburgh to hear the hoofs
That loud a tattoo played,
While back from doorways, windows, roofs,
Rang cheers from man and maid.
His voice, a twilight clarion, spoke
By slow Pamunkey's ford;
In Fredericksburg to all the folk
'Twas like a singing sword.
It thrilled while Alexandria slept
By brown Potomac's shore,
And, like a forest fire, it swept
The streets of Baltimore.
With it Elk Tavern's rafters shook
As though the thunder rolled;
It stirred the brigs off Marcus Hook
From lookout to the hold.
When midnight held the autumn sky,
Again and yet again
It echoed through the way called High
Within the burg of Penn.
The city watch adjured in vain, —
"Cease! cease! you tipsy clown!"
Flung Tilghman out, — "Cornwallis' ta'en!
The World Turned Upside Down!"
Where wrapt in virtuous repose
The head of Congress lay,
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A clamor welled as though there rose
The Trump of Judgment Day.
"What madness' this?" fierce called McKean,
In white nightcap and gown;
The answer came, — "Cornwallis' ta'en!
The World Turned Upside Down!"
Then forth into the highways poured
A wild, exultant rout,
And till the dawn there swelled and soared
Tench Tilghman's victory shout;
Then bells took up the joyous strain,
And cannon roared to drown
The triumph cry, — "Cornwallis' ta'en!
The World Turned Upside Down!"
In dreams, Tench Tilghman, still you ride,
As in the days of old,
And with your horse's swinging stride
Your patriot tale is told;
It rings by river, hill, and plain,
Your memory to crown;—
"Cornwallis' ta'en! Cornwallis' ta'en!
The World Turned Upside Down!"
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