FLING wide each fold, brave flag unrolled
In all thy breadth and length!
Float out unfurled, and show the world
A new-born nation’s strength.
Thou dost not wave all bright and brave
In holiday attire;
‘Mid cannon chimes a thousand times
Baptized in blood and fire.
No silken toy to flaunt in joy,
When careless shouts are heard:
Where thou art borne all scathed and torn,
A nation’s heart is stirred.
Where half-clad groups of toil-worn troops,
Are marching to the wars,
What grateful tears and heartfelt cheers
Salute thy cross of stars!
Thou ne’er hast seen the pomp and sheen,
The pageant of a court;
Or masquerade of war’s parade,
When fields are fought in sport;
But thou know’st well the battle yell
From which thy foemen reel,
When down the steeps resistless leaps
A sea of Southern steel.
Thou know’st the storm of balls that swarm
In dense and hurling fight,
When thy crossed bars, a blaze of stars,
Plunge headlong through the fight;
Where thou’rt unfurled are thickest hurled
The thunderbolts of war;
And thou art met with loudest threat
Of cannon from afar.
For thee is told the merchant’s gold;
The planter’s harvests fall:
Thine is the gain of hand and brain,
And the heart’s wealth of all.
For thee each heart has borne to part
With what it holds most dear;
Through all the land no woman’s hand
Has staid one volunteer.
Though from thy birth outlawed on earth,
By older nations spurned,
Their full-grown fame may dread the name
Thy infancy has earned.
For thou dost flood the land with blood,
And sweep the seas with fire;
And all the earth applauds the worth
Of deeds thou dost inspire!
Thy stainless field shall empire wield,
Supreme from sea to sea,
And proudly shine the honored sign
Of peoples yet to be.
When thou shalt grace the hard-won place
The nations grudge thee now,
No land shall show to friend or foe
A nobler flag than thou.
Originally posted 2009-03-11 09:55:36.