STAND by the Flag!—its stars, like meteors gleaming,
Have lighted Arctic icebergs, Southern seas,
And shone responsive to the stormy beaming
Of old Arcturus and the Pleiades.
Stand by the Flag!—its stripes have streamed in glory,
To foes a fear, to friends a festal robe,
And spread, in rhythmic lines, the sacred story
Of Freedom’s triumph over all the globe.
Stand by the Flag!—on land and ocean billow,
By it your fathers stood, unmoved and true,
Living defended—dying, from their pillow,
With their last blessing, passed it on to you.
Stand by the Flag!—immortal heroes bore it
Though sulphurous smoke, deep moat, and armed defence,
And their imperial shades still hover o’er it—
A guard celestial, from Omnipotence.
Stand by the Flag!—it is a holy treasure;
Though wrong may dim some stars which should be light,
A steady, gentle, and persistent pressure,
Kindly exerted, yet will make them bright.
Stand by the Flag!—though death-shots round it rattle.
And underneath its waving folds have met,
In all the dread array of sanguine battle,
The quivering lance and glittering bayonet.
Stand by the Flag!—all doubt and treason scorning—
Believe, with courage firm, and faith sublime,
That it will float until the eternal morning
Pales, in its glories, all the lights of time!
—John Nichols Wilder.