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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Name of Old Glory

By James Whitcomb Riley (1849–1916)

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 delightfulest 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—speak out!—we are asking about

How you happened to “favor” a name, so to say,

That sounds so familiar and careless and gay

As we cheer it and shout in our wild breezy way—

We—the crowd, every man of us, calling you that—

We—Tom, Dick, and Harry—each swinging his hat

And hurrahing “Old Glory!” like you were our kin,

When—Lord!—we all know we’re as common as sin!

And yet it just seems like you humor us all

And waft us your thanks, as we hail you and fall

Into line, with you over us, waving us on

Where our glorified, sanctified betters have gone.—

And this is the reason we’re wanting to know—

(And we’re wanting it so!

Where our own fathers went we are willing to go.)—

Who gave you the name of Old Glory—Oho!—

Who gave you the name of Old Glory?

The old flag unfurled with a billowy thrill

For an instant, then wistfully sighed and was still.

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.