The Star-Spangled Banner

by


The original title of Key's poem was "Defence of Fort McHenry." Retrieved from the collection Poems of American Patriotism (1922), chosen by Brander Matthews.
The poem's preface:
[Sidenote: Sept. 14, 1813] After the British had burned the Capitol at Washington, in August, 1813, they retired to their ships, and on September 12th and 13th, they made an attack on Baltimore. This poem was written on the morning after the bombardment of Fort McHenry, while the author was a prisoner on the British fleet.

An illustration for the story The Star-Spangled Banner by the author Frances Scott Key An illustration for the story The Star-Spangled Banner by the author Frances Scott Key An illustration for the story The Star-Spangled Banner by the author Frances Scott Key
  Oh! say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
    What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming;
  Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
    O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
  And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
  Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
    Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

  On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
    Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
  What is that which the breeze o'er the towering steep
    As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
  Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam;
  Its full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
    'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh! long may it wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

  And where is the band who so vauntingly swore,
    'Mid the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
  A home and a country they'd leave us no more?
    Their blood hath washed out their foul footsteps' pollution;
  No refuge could save the hireling and slave
  From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

  Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
    Between their loved home and the war's desolation;
  Blessed with victory and peace, may the Heaven-rescued land
    Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
  Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
  And this be our motto, "In God is our trust":
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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