Stars and Stripes.

National Star, in heaven so bright,
Veil not now thy silv’ry light!
Vanish not now from earth afar;
Leave not Columbia, beautiful star!
Stay with her, shine on her, National Star?
Heroes have fought on many a height,
Longed for a glimpse of thy cheering light;
Statesmen foiled the foes who’d mar
The fate of thy protégé, beautiful star:
Leave us not, cynosure, National star!
Washington saw thy rising ray;
Franklin hailed the dawning day,
Yoked swift coursers to thy car,
Died in the faith of thee, beautiful star:
Leave us not now, O National Star!
Fostered by thee, rose Channing and Dwight;
Longfellow, Bryant, reflect thy light;
When darkest the prospects of freedom’s war,
Our fathers were led by thee, guiding star:
Oh, leave us not now, our National Star!
Fourscore and five years thou hast shone;
America still prays, Star, shine on!
The gates of thy hiding place unbar,
Shine forth, we worship thee, beautiful star!
Stay with us, shine on us, National Star!
(Answers the star) A cry to the white
Rises from black men, striped out of right,
False ones, ye worship the stripe, not the star;
Stripes shall avenge your black slight of the star!
Black versus White, Stripe versus Star.

Title:Stars and Stripes.


Publication:The Bradford Observer

Published in:Bradford

Date:May 16th 1861

Keywords:patriotism, politics, slavery


This abolitionist poem published at the beginning of the American Civil War figures a ‘National Star’ in terms of liberty and democracy, and urges the spirit of this personification of the country to assist the nation in its drive towards freedom for all its subjects. The trope of the pun between the ‘stripes’ of the flag and the ‘stripes’ of marks form slavers’ whips was a common one even before this period. The poem contains interesting references to American educational, religious, and literary figures, and suggests and implicit link between high culture, morality, and political imperatives. – SR