Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Stars and Bars

While enjoying the songs and accompanying music on the Poetry and Music of the War Between the States web site, I found these intriguing lyrics and accompanying commentary from the June 21, 1861 edition of Vanity Fair.

Please forgive the vulgar language. No offense intended.

"Having understood that the Southern Confederated States of America were suffering for want of a patriotic song -- a national anthem -- to the stirring tones of which their chivalry might march gallantly to victory, or death, or both, we have set ourself to work to produce such a composition. This we do in pure charity and benevolence, without hope of reward or emolument from the new Republic of Fools. Republics are inevitably ungrateful.

The only national song that has attained any great popularity in the Federal, or United States, is the "Star-Spangled Banner" -- a song all about our flag. Very well: why not have a song about the Confederate flag? Sure enough -- but then, their flag is only a modification of ours -- a sort of bunting parody, as it were. Just the thing! They shall have a sort of fustian parody of our flag-song, to be in keeping; and its flowing numbers shall be chaunted far and near, wherever cotton is grown, corn-whiskey guzzled, and niggers licked.

Gentlemen of the Southern Confederated States, here is your national anthem."

Anonymous (1861)

O say, can you see -- though perhaps you're too tight --
What so feebly we hailed at the twilight's last beaming --
Whose broad bars and few stars o'er our scurrilous flight
From the rumshops we filched, were so gaudily streaming?
When the rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof, though we ran, that our rag remained there?
O, say, does that Bar-Strangled Banner still wave
O'er the land of the thief and the home of the slave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's honest host in its glory reposes,
What is that which the breeze -- while we fearfully creep
To escape deserved blows -- half-conceals, half-discloses?
Now it sullies the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In dishonor reflected now taints the pure stream --
'Tis the Bar-Strangled Banner, that foully doth wave
O'er the land of the thief and the home of the slave!

And where is that band who so truthfully swore
That the might of the law, and a stern retribution,
A hold for rebellion should leave us no more?
Their guns have ploughed up our footsteps' pollution!
Their protection we crave, both rebel and slave --
None other we hope for except in the grave,
And our Bar-Strangled Banner no longer shall wave
O'er the land of the thief and the home of the slave!

O, thus is it ever, when traitors may stand
Against a loved land and its administration;
In rout and destruction, our treacherous band
See the error we have made in arousing a nation;
Be conquered we must, for our cause is unjust --
They look but to God, while in Mammon we trust;
And their -- not our -- Banner in triumph shall wave
O'er South as o'er North, o'er the free as the slave!"



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All original material Copyright © 2005-2007. All Rights Reserved

Source: Civil War Poetry


Judi said...

Oh, those wags at Vanity Fair!

Anonymous said...

And this is what they got for their valiant deeds? What they got for giving their lives for what they felt was right?

Randy said...

No. Sadly, this is what happens when two sides decide that something exists for which they are willing to fight, kill, or die. I intend no disrespect to either side of this conflict. I wish only to show on occasion the realities of a war that can too easily fall prey to becoming over romanticized. It is something that I fear I am guilty of on occasion and so wish to correct.