Friday, August 11, 2006

Barbara Fritchie

This is an American classic. Most everone was taught it in earlier days. I had heard of it but never read it until a good friend sent it me recently. Aside for the sentiment, which is lovely, it seems to a meter and cadence that I find stirring.

It seems appropriate for our parlous times.


FRITCHIE, Barbara, also Frietchie, legendary American heroine, who reputedly defied the Confederate troops under Stonewall Jackson as they advanced through Frederick, Md., by waving the Stars and Stripes from an upper window of her home. This story, now considered apocryphal, is the subject of a popular patriotic poem, "Barbara Frietchie" (1864), by John Greenleaf Whittier, and a play, Barbara Frietchie (1899), by Clyde Fitch.


Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,
The clustered spires of Frederick standGreen-walled by the hills of Maryland.
Round about them orchards sweep,Apple and peach trees fruited deep,
Fair as the garden of the Lord to the eyes of the famished rebel horde,
On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain-wall;
Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.
Forty flags with their silver stars,Forty flags with their crimson bars,
Flapped in the morning wind; the sun of noon looked down, and saw not one.
Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;
Bravest of all in Frederick town, she took up the flag the men hauled down;
In her attic window the staff she set, to show that one heart was loyal yet.
Up the street came the rebel tread, Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.
Under his slouched hat left and right he glanced; the old flag met his sight.
"Halt!" the dust-brown ranks stood fast."Fire!" out blazed the rifle-blast.
It shivered the window, pane and sash; it rent the banner with seam and gash.
Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.
She leaned far out on the window-sill,And shook it forth with a royal will.
"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, but spare your country's flag," she said.
A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;
The nobler nature within him stirred to life at that woman's deed and word;
"Who touches a hair of yon gray headDies like a dog! March on!" he said.
All day long through Frederick street sounded the tread of marching feet:
All day long that free flag tost over the heads of the rebel host.
Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;
And through the hill-gaps sunset lightshone over it with a warm good-night.
Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er, and the Rebel rides on his raids no more.
Honor to her! And let a tear fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.
Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!
Peace and order and beauty draw round thy symbol of light and law;
And ever the stars above look down on thy stars below in Frederick town!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Wattenberg...We love your Blog here on the west coast. Thank you for posting Barbara F. One of our all time family favorites! Your blog is a breath of fresh air, please keep it up and coming. We are desperate for your musings out here. Onward!!
Sincerely, Betty Mann

August 11, 2006  
Blogger Ben Wattenberg said...

Thank you Betty. I'll keep it up of you keep responding or posting independent thoughts.


August 11, 2006  

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