“The poetry of the ‘Star-spangled Banner’ has touches of delicacy for which one looks in vain in most national odes, and is as near a true poem as any national ode ever was. The picture of the ‘dawn’s early light’ and the tricolor, half concealed, half disclosed, amid the mists that wreathed the battle-sounding Patapsco, is a true poetic concept.
“The ‘Star-spangled Banner’ has the peculiar merit of not being a tocsin song, like the ‘Marseillaise.’ Indeed, there is not a restful, soothing, or even humane sentiment in all that stormy shout. It is the scream of oppressed humanity against its oppressor, presaging a more than quid pro quo; and it fitly prefigured the sight of that long file of tumbrils bearing to the Place de la Revolution the fairest scions of French aristocracy. On the other hand, ‘God Save the King,’ in its original, has one or two lines as grotesque as ‘Yankee Doodle’ itself; yet we have paraphrased it in ‘America,’ and made it a hymn meet for all our churches. But the ‘Star-spangled Banner’ combines dignity and beauty, and it would be hard to find a line of it that could be improved upon.”
Over the simple grave of Francis Scott Key, in Frederick, Maryland, there is no other monument than the “star-spangled banner.” In storm and in sunshine, in summer and in winter, its folds ever float over the resting place of the man who has immortalized it in verse. No other memorial could so fitly commemorate the life and death of this simple, dignified, patriotic American.
“A sweet, noble life,” says a recent writer, “was that of the author of our favorite national hymn—a life of ideal refinement, piety, scholarly gentleness. Little did he think that his voice would be the storm song, the victor shout, of conquering America to resound down and down the ages!”
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 rampart 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
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,
In 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!