Tuesday, August 25, 2015

From Baltimore to Anacreon

image borrowed from thehistoryreader.com

From Baltimore to Anacreon

“If you forget the words to your own songs, well, you
can improvise--but if you forget the words to the national
anthem--then you’re screwed.”--Lyle Lovett

Oh, say can you see
by the dawn’s early light, what
so proudly we hailed

                                        at the twilight’s last
                                        gleaming, whose broad stripes & bright
                                        stars, through the peri--

--lous fight, O’er the ram--
--parts we watched so gallantly
streaming? and the roc--

ket’s red glare,
Bloody fare
the bomb’s bursting in air
Claws of the bear
gave proof through the night
Vicious fight
was still there.
Pugnacious pair
Oh, say does that
Pesky gnat
star-spangled banner yet wave
Freedom saved.

                                       O’er the land of the
                                       free & the home of the brave:
                                       End of the first verse.

When you pull the patriotic scab off of our colorful History,
in 1814, we discover young FranKKey, a nineteenth century
poet, standing on the tilted deck of an American frigate in
Baltimore harbor watching the British night bombardment
of Ft. McHenry, while he scribbled four stanzas of poetry
on the wet backs of cotton ledgers--& it remained just a
popular poem, until it morphed into popular music, using
the melody of a well known drinking song, called 
                          TO ANACREON IN HEAVEN, 
created by the folks at a Gentleman’s Club of amateur 
musicians in London.

Then in 1916, during WWI, President Woodrow Wilson
began having military bands play it to spike patriotism,
& during the early years of the Great Depression, in 1931,
after an Act of Congress, the song was officially designated
as our national anthem. 

                             How many sporting
                             events, or school assemblies
                             have we all

found ourselves at, with our right hand over our heart, after a
flag salute, & recitation of the pledge of allegiance, & praising
God--singing the national anthem? Maybe a hundred or so
before we were twenty--where for me in 1964, I encountered
something called the inception of the Viet Nam War, just as
the shaggy-haired Beatles started another British invasion,
with free love, sex/drugs/& rock-n-roll just around the bend. 

I love my country;
can’t help myself, regardless
of politicians.

Glenn Buttkus


X said...

I am glad you found a positive spin to it. I took a bit of a different route through the poem/song. If you have not read the rest of the verses - i strongly recommend it. I like how you embedded the song at the beginning but with your own little additions. Its pretty funny to that the tune was based on a drinking song.
I wonder why it has been relegated to sporting events and school gyms though. You never hear it anywhere else.

Claudia said...

it is good to love the own country cause a country needs people that love it to come alive and flourish and to fill the words of the anthem with meaning
our anthem is mainly played on sporting events as well - i hummed it all day though today - smiles

Glenn Buttkus said...

Kind of following through on Bjorn's HAIBUN essay yesterday, I just launch off into my own version of it, that changes up with every new poem. I did have some fun forcing the lyrics into both haiku & echo verse though.

brudberg said...

Oh in many anthems there are things to love.. the nature and the people.. the pride of a nation.. it's when the glory and honor that comes I always see the darker side of it.. Actually I find it interesting how National Anthems always seems to be written to familiar melodies, the Swedish one was a folk song, and the poet writing the song was not very well known...

C.C. said...

I love this line: "When you pull the patriotic scab off of our colorful History,"....thank you for pulling the scab off for us....I did not know that bit about the drinking song.....such an interesting, and colorful indeed, piece of our history :-)

Anonymous said...

The national Anthem belongs to the eighteenth Century.
In it you find us ordering God about to do our political dirty work.

~George Bernard Shaw

You've pulled us to your national anthem of truthfulness and hope.
Gosh! every line you delivered is outstanding and powerful.

P.S Stop by my page. I got a new poem up for you to read.
Might you, I created and made up 3 words. You'll be surprised. :)

Grace said...

Loving the country is beautiful and doesn't necessarily equate to liking the politicians ~ It just a pity that we don't elect politicians who genuinely love our country ~

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.. enjoyed this poem!

Imperfectly_His said...

There's a lot of history in the post. I never knew most of it, thx!

Myrna R. said...

I don't go to any sporting events, so I hadn't heard or thought about our anthem for a long time. I love how you mixed its words with yours. Thanks for the background of how the song came to be. And thanks for loving our country. Sometimes we forget that we criticize it, get mad at it because it's ours, and we love it.

Sumana Roy said...

that's all national anthems are about, loving the country and breathe unity...one may not include politicians in them... a nice haibun :)

Kate Mia said...

Perhaps.. the country will be different IF
a requirement for passing each grade
is to write an Anthem of PRAISE
or Disagreement about
the country
and discuss
it all at the
end of each
school year
with just
a satisfactory
grade of finishing
the task and attending
the freedom or prison seminar
of expression.. fully freedom's way..
but to me the most important
thing is someone writes their
own feelings down
and perhaps they
can be shared
in an
way where the
the REAL opinions
of anonymous
others as it
will be
easier on
kids that way...
Having requirements
for citizenship ongoing
in this way of discussing
patriotism seems reasonable to me..
yeah.. i kNow that is more than
13 words.. smiles.. no

Mary said...

I did enjoy the history of the writing / adopting of the national anthem, Glenn. (If only it were more singable!) I love my country as well....and I second what Grace has said: Too bad we do not elect politicians who love the country.

lynn__ said...

I enjoyed watching the ramparts with FrankKey; who, like you, is a patriotic poet extraordinaire!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your last point. We may live in different countries...but I, too, love my country...in spite of the politicians!

Anonymous said...

I love your poem, it paints such a vivid pic of FrankKey (love that!) and I too still feel the love of country when I hear it played despite the state of politicks today (poly = many, ticks = blood sucking parasites of democracy). Out.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Yes, regardless of politicians indeed! :)

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

PS Couldn't get linky right; mine is here: ttp://passionatecrone.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/who-come-waltzing-matilda-with-me.html