Southern Life in Southern Literature/Francis Scott Key

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For other versions of this work, see The Star-Spangled Banner.


[Francis Scott Key was born in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1780. After being educated at St. John's College, Annapolis, he began the practice of law in Washington, where he died in 1843. After his death a volume of his poems was published, but as it consists largely of occasional pieces not originally intended for publication, it has added little to his fame, and "The Star-Spangled Banner" remains his best-known production.]

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O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd 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 rocket's red glare, the bomb 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, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream;
'T is 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 wash d out their foul footsteps' 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.

O! thus be it ever! when freemen shall stand
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-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.