November 21, 2012
The Star Spangled Banner
The Star Spangled Banner is a very powerful and moving song that not only defines our country as a free and independent nation, but it also presents us with the struggles we went through to become who we are. The Star Spangled Banner originated as the poem “Defense of Fort McHenry” in 1814 by Frances Scott Key. The national anthem was not written during the American Revolution, contrary to popular belief. It was, in fact, written in the War of 1812. Although the poem has four unique stanzas, we normally only recognize the first one, and sometimes the second stanza as well. Our anthem, regardless of its patriotic values, is a great example of rich English literature that symbolizes our people even after 200 years. But, in reality, the song has a wide variety of meanings and interpretations deeply embedded in the historical significance it represents. The first line of the song reads, “O say can you see by the dawn’s early light? What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?” Translated in to today’s contemporary language, this means, “hey there, can you see by morning what was there before the sun set yesterday evening?” Frances Scott Key introduces the topic of this song by grabbing the reader’s attention. This first line of the song makes readers wonder what Key is referring to, making them want to read the poem on further. When Key mention’s the “dawn’s early light” he is referring to an early morning; a new day and a new beginning. The “twilight’s last gleaming” suggests a very special time of day; right before the sun is setting and there is a tiny streak of light that appears in the sky. These two verses show a lot of symbolism. Once again, we must use the historical context of this poem to make meaning of the lyrics. The War of 1812 was a war fought by the British and Americans. Key was on a British ship when he wrote this poem, negotiating with the officers to release some of the...
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