Friday, July 04, 2014

The Origin of the National Anthem

While I don't condone all the burning of incense to Caesar that goes on during the 4th of July these days, the following is the actual text of the origin poem written by Francis Scott Key,
Francis Scott Key was ironically tone deaf and extremely religious, penning a few hymns, He was associated with the American Bible Society for most of his adult life. 
as he was being held aboard a British ship during the naval bombardment of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812:

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 watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the Rocket’s red glare, the Bombs 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 new shines in the stream,

‘Tis 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 refuse 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 home, and the war’s desolation,
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land,
Praise the Power that hath made and preserv’d 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.

On September 20, 1814, the Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser published the words. Within the year every newspaper in the eighteen states had also published it. Sources: One of the rare copies of the “Defence of Fort McHenry” handbills is at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore.

Key's original hand written copy.

-------------------------------------------------

Now for the interesting part, or as Paul Harvey used to say on the radio, the "rest of the story...

Don't you love how they sanitized the fact that this creation was a drinking song?  
The poem was actually a play on the "Anacreontic Song", sometimes referred to as "To Anacreon In Heaven", was the official song of the Anacreontic Society, which was a  bawdy 18th-century gentlemen's clubin London, and penned by a man named John Stafford Smith.
Basically, it was a drinking song (notice how the cadences are basically identical with the Star Spangled Banner):

To Anacreon in Heav'n, where he sat in full glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a petition
That he their Inspirer and Patron would be;
When this answer arrived from the Jolly Old Grecian:
"Voice, Fiddle, and Flute, no longer be mute,
I'll lend you my name and inspire you to boot,

And besides I'll instruct you, like me, to intwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."

The news through Olympus immediately flew;
When Old Thunder pretended to give himself airs.
"If these Mortals are suffered their scheme to pursue,
The devil a Goddess will stay above stairs.
Hark, already they cry, in transports of joy,
Away to the Sons of Anacreon we'll fly,

And there with good fellows, we'll learn to intwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus' Vine."

"The Yellow-Haired God and his nine fusty Maids
From Helicon's banks will incontinent flee,
Idalia will boast but of tenantless shades,
And the bi-forked hill a mere desert will be.
My Thunder no fear on't, shall soon do its errand,
And dam'me I'll swing the Ringleaders I warrant.

I'll trim the young dogs, for thus daring to twine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."

Apollo rose up, and said, "Pry'thee ne'er quarrel,
Good King of the Gods, with My Vot'ries below:
Your Thunder is useless" — then showing his laurel,
Cry'd "Sic evitabile fulmen,[7] you know!
Then over each head, my laurels I'll spread,
So my sons from your Crackers no mischief shall dread,

Whilst, snug in their clubroom, they jovially twine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."

Next Momus got up with his risible Phiz
And swore with Apollo he'd cheerfully join —
"The full tide of Harmony still shall be his,
But the Song, and the Catch, and the Laugh shall be mine.
Then, Jove, be not jealous of these honest fellows."
Cry'd Jove, "We relent, since the truth you now tell us;

And swear by Old Styx, that they long shall intwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."

Ye Sons of Anacreon, then join hand in hand;
Preserve Unanimity, Friendship, and Love!
'Tis yours to support what's so happily plann'd;
You've the sanction of Gods, and the Fiat of Jove.
While thus we agree, our toast let it be:
"May our Club flourish happy, united, and free!

And long may the Sons of Anacreon intwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."

So, food for thought at your next ball game....

No comments: