THE AMERICAN FLAG
by: Joseph Rodman Drake
- HEN Freedom, from her mountain
- Unfurled her standard to the air,
- She tore the azure robe of night,
- And set the stars of glory there;
- She mingled with its gorgeous dyes
- The milky baldric of the skies,
- And striped its pure, celestial white
- With streakings of the morning light;
- Then, from his mansion in the sun,
- She called her eagle bearer down,
- And gave into his mighty hand,
- The symbol of her chosen land.
- Majestic monarch of the cloud!
- Who rear'st aloft thy regal form,
- To hear the tempest-trumpings loud,
- And see the lightning-lances driven
- When strive the warriors of the storm,
- And rolls the thunder-drum of heaven--
- Child of the sun! to thee 't is given
- To guard the banner of the free,
- To hover in the sulphur smoke,
- To ward away the battle-stroke,
- And bid its blendings shine afar,
- Like rainbows on the cloud of war,
- The harbingers of victory!
- Flag of the brave! thy folds shall fly,
- The sign of hope and triumph high,
- When speaks the signal-trumpet tone,
- And the long line comes gleaming on:
- Ere yet the life-blood, warm and wet,
- Has dimmed the glistening bayonet,
- Each soldier eye shall brightly turn
- Where the sky-born glories burn,
- And, as his springing steps advance,
- Catch war and vengeance from the glance;
- And when the cannon-mouthings loud
- Heave in wild wreaths the battle-shroud,
- And gory sabres rise and fall,
- Like shoots of flame on midnight's pall;
- Then shall thy meteor-glances glow,
- And cowering foes shall shrink beneath
- Each gallant arm that strikes below
- That lovely messenger of death.
- Flag of the seas! on ocean wave
- Thy stars shall glitter o'er the brave;
- When death, careering on the gale,
- Sweeps darkly round the bellied sail,
- And frighted waves rush wildly back
- Before the broadside's reeling rack,
- Each dying wanderer of the sea
- Shall look at once to heaven and thee,
- And smile to see thy splendors fly
- In triumph o'er his closing eye.
- Flag of the free heart's hope and home,
- By angel hands to valor given;
- Thy stars have lit the welkin dome,
- And all thy hues were born in heaven.
- Forever float that standard sheet!
- Where breathes the foe but falls before us,
- With Freedom's soil beneath our feet,
- And Freedom's banner streaming o'er us?
MORE POEMS BY JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE
"The American Flag" is
reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900.
Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.