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Old Ironsides Summary & Study Guide

Oliver Wendell Holmes
This Study Guide consists of approximately 16 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Old Ironsides.
This section contains 676 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Lines 1-4:

The first stanza meditates on the ship's "ensign," or the naval flag that flies upon its mast, as a symbol of the Constitution herself. Though not invented by Holmes, "Old Ironsides" is a metaphorical nickname—ironclad vessels did not come into use until the Civil War—and like the "tattered" flag, the ship has survived much adversity. Also like the flag ("Long has it waved on high"), the ship occupies a lofty position—not physically, of course, but in the imagination. Because of its role in history, the Constitution is in the national consciousness a symbol for the "higher" virtues for which the republic is thought to stand. One such virtue is freedom, and in the early days of the United States the concept of freedom was closely associated with the two wars against Britain. Thus the ship is an important symbol to the many Americans...

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This section contains 676 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Old Ironsides Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Old Ironsides from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.