The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday

The American Flag
By Joseph Rodman Drake

When Freedom from her mountain height
  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
To where thy 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?


I was out pretty much all day Sunday after posting some little bitty Star Trek news, on a lovely partly overcast day when we had intended to make a brief stop at Arlington National Cemetery on the way to the Smithsonian, but ended up very happy to be outdoors and spending the entire afternoon at Arlington and the Marine Corps War Memorial (better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial). I haven't been to the cemetery in easily 25 years -- I was trying to guess the last time by remembering dates, but all I can say for sure is that it was before the Challenger exploded and long before Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was buried next to her first husband. I'd never been inside Arlington House, Robert E. Lee and Mary Custis' home originally built as a memorial to her ancestor George Washington, nor obviously had I seen the Challenger and Columbia memorials. And I'd actually never visited Iwo Jima, though I'd seen it from the highway. Though there were tour buses and clusters of people around Kennedy's grave, it wasn't very crowded, which I assume will be very different next weekend when there will be an American flag on every soldier's grave.

The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Memorial for the crew of the space shuttle Challenger.

Remember the Maine...the mast of the USS Maine, here as a monument to the crew which died near Havana when she sank.

An obelisk marking a grave with the more familiar obelisk of the Washington Monument in the distance.

An officer on the way to a gathering of World War II veterans at the amphitheatre.

We were taken out to dinner at Red Rock Canyon Grill by my father (who had come with us to Arlington, my mother having been at my sister's in New York). I had the excellent salmon Caesar salad, as did younger son, and we saw the baby geese from a distance across the lake. This evening we had a serious disagreement with our new router, which after many hours of struggling offline is still not working the way it's supposed to -- we had to route it through the old router, which only has two working ports out of four -- hence the new router -- but when we plug the new one in directly it can't find the IP address or internet connection and we don't understand why (am leaving it to apaulled to figure out as I doubt I have even explained what the problem was adequately, but it involved a lot of plugging and unplugging the cable modem from different computers and the same with both the old and new router!) So I've been mostly offline and will catch up later.

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