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James Whitcomb Riley

Old Glory

Old Glory! say, who,

By the ships and the crew,

And the long, blended ranks of the gray and the blue—

Who gave you, Old Glory, the name that you bear

With such pride everywhere,

As you cast yourself free to the rapturous air

And leap out full length, as we're wanting you to?—

Who gave you that name, with the ring of the same,

And the honor and fame so becoming to you?

Your stripes stroked in ripples of white and of red,

With your stars at their glittering best overhead—

By day or by night

Their delightfullest light

Laughing down from their little square heaven of blue!

Who gave you the name of Old Glory—say, who—

Who gave you the name of Old Glory?

The old banner lifted and faltering then

In vague lisps and whispers fell silent again.

Old Glory: the story we're wanting to hear

Is what the plain facts of your christening were,—

For your name—just to hear it,

Repeat it, and cheer it, 's a tang to the spirit

As salt as a tear;—

And seeing you fly, and the boys marching by,

There's a shout in the throat and a blur in the eye,

And an aching to live for you always—or die,

If, dying, we still keep you waving on high

And so, by our love

For you, floating above,

And the scars of all wars and the sorrows thereof,

Who gave you the name of Old Glory, and why

Are we thrilled at the name of Old Glory?

Then the old banner leaped like a sail in the blast,

And fluttered an audible answer at last

And it spake with a shake of the voice, and it said:

By the driven snow-white and the living blood-red

Of my bars and their heaven of stars overhead—

By the symbol conjoined of them all, skyward cast,

As I float from the steeple or flap at the mast,

Or droop o'er the sod where the long grasses nod,—

My name is as old as the glory of God

. . . So I came by the name of Old Glory.