Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
II. Freedom
The Star-Spangled Banner
Francis Scott Key (1779–1843)
 
O, SAY, 1 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 clouds of the fight
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming!
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,        5
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?
 
On that shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,        10
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
’T is the star-spangled banner! O, long may it wave        15
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!
 
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.        20
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!
 
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand        25
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto. “In God is our trust:”        30
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
 
Note 1. Begun during the attack on Fort McHenry, by a British fleet, which on the night of Sept. 12, 1814, unsuccessfully bombarded that fort from the Patapsco River; the author, an envoy from the city of Baltimore, having been detained as a prisoner on the fleet. [back]
 
 
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