The Star-Spangled Banner
- Francis Scott Key

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 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 wiped out their foul footstep's pollution.
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.

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, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
I have always loved this song, and never cease to be uplifted when it is performed (thinks of Roseanne Barr, and decides to make that performed well).  I am deliberately NOT including a link to an audio file, bacause we all know the tune, and this is really about appreciating the lyrics.

The first verse we all (except Roseanne) know by heart is but the first of four, and merely gets the question asked - did the US forces hold Ft. McHenry against the British inveders and does the Star-Spangled banner yet wave now that the rockets and bombs have fallen silent?

The second verse answers that question brilliantly, with some great imagery conveyed in the poetry that, indeed the American flag still flew over Ft. McHenry.

The third verse, I have to admit is my least favorite.  It never caught my emotions like the other verses.  I'd be very interested to hear what y'all think of it.

The last verse is my favorite, and keeps it from being a history lesson, however beautfully told, and makes the song a timeless declaration of patriotism,
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