God Save the Flag
WASHED in the blood of the brave and the blooming,
- Snatched from the altars of insolent foes,
Burning with star-fires, but never consuming,
- Flash its broad ribbons of lily and rose.
Vainly the prophets of Baal would rend it,
- Vainly his worshippers pray for its fall;
Thousands have died for it, millions defend it,
- Emblem of justice and mercy to all;
Justice that reddens the sky with her terrors,
- Mercy that comes with her white-handed train,
Soothing all passions, redeeming all errors,
- Sheathing the sabre and breaking the chain.
Borne on the deluge of all usurpations,
- Drifted our Ark o'er the desolate seas,
Bearing the rainbow of hope to the nations,
- Torn from the storm-cloud and flung to the breeze!
God bless the Flag and its loyal defenders,
- While its broad folds o'er the battle-field wave,
Till the dim star-wreath rekindle its splendors,
- Washed from its stains in the blood of the brave!
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)
This poem recalls a quote I heard once but can't find the author who said it....War is a boyish game fought by boys.
This is a Civil War
poem and I know from the genealogical records of my family that we had ancestors in Virginia
. One particular family had two sons and sent one to fight in the armies of the Union
and the other to the Confederacy
in the vain hopes that whichever side won their family might survive. Some may think that these were men and not boys but as a mother of two young sons I can assure you that I think of them as boys. This poem is a reminder to me of what must have been an agonizing sacrifice and how they balanced their family along with their patriotism. The tone here is that of a thinking patriot
about the way the educated classes saw America in relation to the rest of the world. There are stains on it's Flash (of) broad ribbons of lily and rose
..... and the blood of brave boys is needed to clean it.
Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner: