The Star-Spangled Banner

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“The Star-Spangled Banner”

By Francis Scott Key (1814)

O 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 rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

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 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, now conceals, now 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 – O long may it wave

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.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight, or the gloom or 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 homes and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory 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,”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Choose 1 of the following activities:
♦ “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a narrative poem since the poet desire to tell a story through verse. What is Francis Scott Key trying to communicate through the poem? To whom do you think he is trying to communicate? If you were trying to tell the story in prose, how would you communicate his intended message? As Francis Scott Key, compose a letter to a neighbor describing the events.
Research the War of 1812 and the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. What were the events the led up to the poem? What do you think followed the events of the poem? Write two additional verses, or paragraphs, to add at the beginning and end of the poem that describe the events before and after the poem.

Use these websites to help in your research:

Paraphrase “The Star-Spangled Banner” into your own words.
♦ Create your own poem that expresses your feelings about the United States or about a historic event. You should incorporate some of the poetic devices used by Key in “The Star-Spangled Banner”, such as alliteration or personification. Did you notice that Key did not use any metaphors or similes? Look up metaphor and simile in the dictionary or online if you are unfamiliar with these terms. See if you can use these poetic devices in your own poem.
♦ Some politicians and scholars have tried to replace “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem due to the violent imagery in the poem. Find the violent imagery in the poem and discuss whether the content of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is appropriate for the national anthem. What is your personal opinion of the anthem’s verse and music? Do you think it is well-written poetry? Why or why not? What about the tune?
♦ Each national anthem has its own distinct history and reason for being used as the musical representation of a people and culture. Research the national anthem of a foreign nation and explain the significance of the song to the people it represents.

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