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Patriotic Poetry
Table of contents

America For Me

American Names

A Creed

The States

Paul Revere's Ride

We Need A Few
More Optimists

The Things That Haven't Been
Done Before

The Flag On
The Farm

A Patriotic Wish

Our Duty To
Our Flag

My Land

America Befriend

Rodney's Ride




Henry Van Dyke
PDF File Worksheet

Tis fine to see the Old World, and travel up and down
Among the famous places and cities of renown,
To admire the crumbly castles and the statues of their kings,
- But now I think Ive had enough of antiquated things.

So its home again, and home again, America for me!
My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be,
In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Oh, London is a mans town, theres power in the air;
And Paris is a womans town, with flowers in the hair;
And its sweet to dream in Venice, and its great to study Rome;
But when it comes to living ... there is no place like home.

I like the German fir-woods, in green battalions drilled;
I like the gardens of Versailles with flashing fountains filled;
But, oh, to take your hand, my dear, and ramble for a day
In the friendly western woodland where Nature has her way!

I know that Europes wonderful, yet something seems to lack:
The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back.
But the glory of the Present is to make our Future free,
We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

Oh, its home again, and home again, America for me!
I want a ship thats westward bound to plough the rolling sea
To the blessed Land of Room Enough beyond the ocean bars
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.


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Stephen Vincent Benet
PDF File Worksheet

I have fallen in love with American names,
The sharp names that never get fat,
The snakeskin-titles of mining-claims,
The plumed war-bonnet of Medicine Hat,
Tucson and Deadwood and Lost Mule Flat.

Seine and Piave are silver spoons,
But the spoonbowl-metal is thin and worn,
There are English counties like hunting-tunes
Played on the keys of a postboy's horn,
But I will remember where I was born.

I will remember Carquinez Straits,
Little French Lick and Lundy's Lane,
The Yankee ships and the Yankee dates
And the bullet-towns of Calamity Jane.
I will remember Skunktown Plain.

I will fall in love with a Salem tree
And a rawhide quirt from Santa Cruz,
I will get me a bottle of Boston sea
And a blue-gum man to sing me blues.
I am tired of loving a foreign muse.

Rue des Martyrs and Bleeding-Heart-Yard,
Senlis, Pisa, and Blindman's Oast,
It is a magic ghost you guard
But I am sick for a newer ghost,
Harrisburg, Spartanburg, Painted Post.

Henry and John were never so
And Henry and John were always right?
Granted, but when it was time to go
And the tea and the laurels had stood all night,
Did they never watch for Nantucket Light?

I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.
I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea.
You may bury my body in Sussex grass,
You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.
I shall not be there.  I shall rise and pass.
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.


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Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

Lord let me not in service lag.
Let me be worthy of our flag.
Let me remember when I'm tired,
The sons heroic who have died.

In freedom's name and in my way,
Teach me to be as brave as they.
In all I am, in all I do,
Unto our flag I would be true.

For God and country let me stand,
Unstained of soul, clean of hand.
Teach me to serve and guard and love,
The starry flag that flies above.


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The States
Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

There is no star within the flag
That's brighter than its brothers,
And when of Michigan I brag,
I'm boasting of the others.
Just which is which no man can say
One star for every state
Gleams brightly on our flag today,
And every one is great.

The stars that gem the skies at night
May differ in degree,
And some are pale and some are bright,
But in our flag we see
A sky of blue wherein the stars
Are equal in design;
Each has the radiance of Mars
And all are yours and mine.

The glory that is Michigan's
Is Colorado's too;
The same sky Minnesota spans,
The same sun warms it through;
And all are one beneath the flag,
A common hope is ours;
Our country is the mountain crag,
The valley and its flowers.

The land we love lies far away
As well as close at hand;
He has no vision who would say:
This state's my native land.
Though sweet the charms he knows the best,
Deep down within his heart
The farthest east, the farthest west
Of him must be a part.

There is no star within the flag
That's brighter than its brothers;
So when of Michigan I brag
I'm boasting of the others.
We share alike one purpose true;
One common end awaits;
We must in all we dream or do
Remain United States.


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The Landlord's Tale:  Paul Revere's Ride
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Form:  couplets and quatains
PDF File Worksheet

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Then he said, "Good night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade, --
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay, --
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry-tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders, that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weather cock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British Regulars fired and fled, --
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farm-yard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, --
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.


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We Need A Few More Optimists
Edgar A.Guest
PDF File Worksheet

We need a few more optimists,
The kind that double up their fists
And set their jaws, determined-like,
A blow to infantry to strike.

Not smiling men, who drift along
And compromise with every wrong;
Not grinning optimists who cry
That right was never born to die,
But Optimists who'll fight to give
The truth an honest chance to live.

We need a few more optimists
For places in our fighting lists,
The kind of hopeful men who make
Real sacrifice for freedom's sake;
The optimist with purpose strong,
Who stands to battle every wrong,
Takes off his coat and buckles in
The better joys of earth to win!

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The Things That Haven't
Been Done Before

Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

The things that haven't been done before,
Those are the things to try;
Columbus dreamed of an unknown shore
At the rim of the far-flung sky,
And his heart was bold and his faith was strong
As he ventured in dangers new,
And he paid no heed to the jeering throng
Or the fears of the doubting crew.

The many will follow the beaten track
With guideposts on the way.
They live and have lived for ages back
With a chart for every day.
Someone has told them it's safe to go
On the road he has traveled o'er,
And all that they ever strive to know
Are the things that were known before.

A few strike out, without map or chart,
Where never a man has been,
From the beaten paths they draw apart
To see what no man has seen.
There are the deeds they hunger alone to do;
Through battered and bruised and sore.
They blaze the path for the many, who
Do nothing not done before.

The things that haven't been done before
Are the tasks worthwhile today;
Are you the one of the flock that follows, or
Are you one that shall lead the way?
Are you one of the timid souls that quail
At the jeers of a doubting crew,
Or dare you, whatever you win or fail,
Strike out for a goal that's new?


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The Flag on the Farm
Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

We've raised a flagpole on the farm
And flung Old Glory to the sky,
And it's another touch of charm
That seems to cheer the passerby,
But more than that, no matter where
We're laboring in wood and field,
We turn and see it in the air,
Our promise of a greater yield.
It whispers to us all day long,
From dawn to dusk:  "Be true, be strong;
Who falters now with plow or hoe
Gives comfort to his country's foe."

It seems to me I've never tried
To do so much about the place,
Nor been so slow to come inside,
But since I've got the flag to face,
Each night when I come home to rest
I feel that I must look up there
And say:  "Old Flag, I've done my best,
Today I've tried to do my share."
And sometimes, just to catch the breeze,
I stop my work, and o'er the trees
Old Glory fairly shouts my way:
"You're shirking far too much today!"

The help have caught the spirit, too;
The hired man takes off his cap
Before the old red, white and blue,
Then to the horses says:  "giddap!"
And starting bravely to the field
He tells the milkmaid by the door:
"We're going to make these acres yield
More than they've ever done before."
She smiles to hear his gallant brag,
Then drops a curtsy to the flag.
And in her eyes there seems to shine
A patriotism that is fine.

We've raised a flagpole on the farm
And flung Old Glory to the sky;
We're far removed from war's alarm,
But courage here is running high.
We're doing things we never dreamed
We'd ever find the time to do;
Deeds that impossible once seemed
Each morning now we hurry through.
The flag now waves above our toil
And sheds its glory on the soil,
And boy and man looks up to it
As if to say:  "I'll do my bit!"


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A Patriotic Wish
Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

I'd like to be the sort of man the flag could boast about;
I'd like to be the sort of man it cannot live without;
I'd like to be the type of man That really is American:
The head-erect and shoulders-square,
Clean-minded fellow, just and fair,
That all men picture when they see
The glorious banner of the free.

I'd like to be the sort of man the flag now typifies,
The kind of man we really want the flag to symbolize;
The loyal brother to a trust,
The big, unselfish soul and just,
The friend of every man oppressed,
The strong support of all that's best,
The sturdy chap the banner's meant,
Where'er it flies, to represent.

I'd like to be the sort of man the flag's supposed to mean,
The man that all in fancy see wherever it is seen,
The chap that's ready for a fight
Whenever there's a wrong to right,
The friend in every time of need,
The doer of the daring deed,
The clean and generous handed man
That is a real American.

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Our Duty to Our Flag
Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

Less hate and greed
Is what we need
And more of service true;
More men to love
The flag above
And keep it first in view.

Less boast and brag
About the flag,
More faith in what it means;
More heads erect,
More self-respect,
Less talk of war machines.

The time to fight
To keep it bright
Is not along the way,
Nor 'cross the foam,
But here at home
Within ourselves today.

'Tis we must love
That flag above
With all our might and main;
For from our hands,
Not distant lands,
Shall come dishonor's stain.

If that flag be
Dishonored, we
Have done it, not the foe;
If it shall fall
We first of all
Shall be to strike a blow.


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My Land
Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

My land is where the kind folks are,
And where the friends are true,
Where comrades brave will travel far
Some kindly deed to do.
My land is where the smiles are bright
And where the speech is sweet,
And where men cling to what is right
Regardless of defeat.

My land is where the starry flag
Gleams brightly in the sun;
The land of rugged mountain crag,
The land where rivers run,
Where cheeks are tanned and hearts are bold
And women fair to see,
And all is not a strife for gold
That land is home to me.

My land is where the children play,
And where the roses bloom,
And where to break the peaceful day
No flaming cannons boom.
My land's the land of honest toil,
Of laughter, dance and song,
Where harvests crown the fertile soil
And thoughtful are the strong.

My land's the land of many creeds
And tolerance for all
It is the land of 'splendid deeds
Where men are seldom small.
And though the world should bid me roam,
Its distant scenes to see,
My land would keep my heart at home
And there I'd always be.


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America Befriend
Henry Van Dike
PDF File Worksheet

To the O Lord, our God, Thy mighty hand
Hath made our country free;
From all her broad and happy land
May worship rise to Thee.
Fulfill the promise of her youth,
Her liberty defend;
By law and order, love and truth,
America befriend!
The strength of every state increase
In Union's golden chain;
Her thousand cities fill with peace,
Her million fields with grain:
The virtues of her mingled blood
In one new people blend;
By unity and brotherhood,
America befriend!
O suffer not her feet to stray;
But guide her untaught might,
That she may walk in peaceful day,
And lead the world in light.
Bring down the proud, lift up the poor,
Unequal ways amend;
By justice, nation-wide and sure,
America befriend!
Through all the waiting land proclaim
The gospel of good-will;
And may the joy of Jesus' name
In every bosom thrill.
O'er hill and vale, from sea to sea,
Thy holy reign extend;
By faith and hope and charity,
America befriend

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On the 3 July 1776, Caesar Rodney rode on horseback from St. James' Neck, below Dover, Delaware, to Philadelphia, in a driving rain storm, for the purpose of voting for the Declaration of Independence.  When reading this poem aloud, it should be VERY dramatic.  It requires life spirit, changes of voice from a low tone to a loud call ... for the most part it should be rapid, yet distinct.


Rodney's Ride
PDF File Worksheet

In that soft mid-land where the breezes bear
The North and South on the genial air,
Through the county of Kent on affairs of State,
Rode Caesar Rodney, the delegate.

Burley and big, and bold and bluff,
In his three-cornered hat and coat of snuff,
A foe to King George and the English State,
Was Caesar Rodney, the delegate.

Into Dover village he rode apace,
And his kinsfolk knew from his anxious face,
It was matter grave that brought him there,
To the counties three upon the Delaware.

"Money and men we must have," he said,
"Or the Congress fails and our cause is dead,
Give us both and the King shall not work his will,
We are men, since the battle of Bunker Hill."

Comes a rider swift on a panting bay;
"Ho, Rodney, ho! you must save the day,
For the Congress halts at a deed so great,
And your voice alone may decide its fate."

Answered Rodney then; "I will ride with speed;
It is Liberty's stress; it is Freedom's need."
"When stands it?" "To-night." "not a moment to spare,
But ride like the wind from Delaware."

"Ho, saddle the black ! I've but half a day,
And the Congress sits eighty miles away
But I'll be in time, if God grants me grace,
To shake my fist in King George's face."

He is up ; he is off ! and the black horse flies
On the northward road ere the "God-speed" dies,
It is gallop and spur, as the leagues they clear,
And the Clustering mile-stones move a-rear.

It is two of the clock; and the fleet hoofs fling
The Fieldsboro dust with a clang and a cling,
It is three; and he gallops with slack rein where
The road winds down to the Delaware.

Four; and he spurs into New Castle town,
From his panting steed he gets him down
"A fresh one quick ! and not a moment's wait!"
And off speeds Rodney, the delegate.

It is five; and the beams of the western sun
Tinge the spires of Wilmington, gold and dun;
Six; and the dust of Chester street
Flies back in a cloud from his courser's feet.

It is seven; the horse-boat, broad of beam,
At the Schuylkill ferry crawls over the stream
And at seven fifteen by the Rittenhouse clock,
He flings his reign to the tavern jock.

The Congress is met; the debate's begun,
And Liberty lags for the vote of one
When into the hall, not a moment late,
Walks Caesar Rodney, the delegate.

Not a moment late ! and that half day's ride
Forwards the world with a mighty stride;
For the act was passed; ere the midnight stroke
O'er the Quaker City its echoes woke.

At Tyranny's feet was the gauntlet flung;
"We are free!" all the bells through the colonies rung,
And the sons of the free may recall with pride,
The day of Delegate Rodney's ride.

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Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

There are different kinds of heroes, there are some you hear about.
They get their pictures printed, and their names the newsboys shout;
There are heroes known to glory that were not afraid to die
In the service of their country and to keep the flag on high;
There are brave men in the trenches, there are brave men on the sea,
But the silent, quiet heroes also prove their bravery.

I am thinking of a hero that was never known to fame,
Just a manly little fellow with a very common name;
He was freckle-faced and ruddy, but his head was nobly shaped,
And he one day took the whipping that his comrades all escaped.
And he never made a murmur, never whimpered in reply;
He would rather take the censure than to stand and tell a lie.

And I'm thinking of another that had courage that was fine,
And I've often wished in moments that such strength of will were mine.
He stood against his comrades, and he left them then and there
When they wanted him to join them in a deed that wasn't fair.
He stood alone, undaunted, with his little head erect;
He would rather take the jeering than to lose his self-respect.

And I know a lot of others that have grown to manhood now,
Who have yet to wear the laurel that adorns the victor's brow.
They have plodded on in honor through the dusty, dreary ways,
They have hungered for life's comforts and the joys of easy days,
But they've chosen to be toilers, and in this their splendor's told:
They would rather never have it than to do some things for gold.

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Be sure to check out Patriotic Holidays' music pages along with the main holiday pages for ...

Presidents' Day

Memorial Day


Pearl Harbor Day

Independence Day

Veterans' Day

Flag Day

Thanksgiving Day


Patriot Poetry / Prose
Look here for even more patriotic poetry and prose !



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