Our Poets Shall Be Our Common Referees

Francis Scott Key observing Fort McHenry, painting by Edward Percy Moran, 1905

This post is my belated gift for the 243rd birthday of the United States of America. As I pondered on the nation’s history, I discovered some things I didn’t know. I wish to share these things with you. These things have a connection with the teachings of the New Message from God.

Our poets shall be our common referees

My fellow American, poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) wrote the final version of the poem “By Blue Ontario’s Shore” in 1881. The above picture is from that very year. It is a lengthy poem, sweeping over the past fifty years or so. I consider one of the main ideas of this poem to be “America needs poets.” In stanza 9 of 20 stanzas, he writes the following:

Of all races and eras these States with veins full of poetical stuff 
most need poets, and are to have the greatest, and use 
them the greatest,
Their Presidents shall not be their common referee so much as 
their poets shall.

It took a while to find our anthem

John Stafford Smith (1750-1836), composer of the melody of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Our poets shall be our common referees. I recently discovered that “The Star-Spangled Banner” did not become the national anthem of the United States of America until 1931. My fellow American, Francis Scott Key, wrote what was then called “The Defense of Fort M’Henry” in 1814. Francis Scott Key was a lawyer by trade. He is much more well-known for this poem than for any case he argued in any court.

Why did it take so long? There are multiple reasons. One was that the melody was the melody to a song called “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a song about drinking and sex. The end of every verse speaks of the entwining of the myrtle of Venus (the Roman goddess of love) and Bacchus’s vine (Bacchus being the Roman god of wine). Some people considered the melody to have ignoble connotations, and thus unacceptable for a national anthem. But the song eventually fell out of fashion, and the associations faded. Another reason was that it was unclear whether there would be a United States at all during the season of the Civil War of 1861-1865. A third reason was that there were other candidates for a national anthem, such as “My Country ‘Tis of Thee, (written in 1831)” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” (written in 1861), and “America the Beautiful” (written in 1895).

Let this be our motto “In God is our trust”

Postage stamp quoting the fourth verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Our poets shall be our common referees. Many people are unaware that “The Star-Spangled Banner” has four verses. The fourth verse answers the question at the end of the first verse. “O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand  
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation, 
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n – rescued land 
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, for our cause is just, 
And this be our motto–“In God is our trust.” 
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave 
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I believe that when “The Star-Spangled Banner” became our national anthem, all four verses of Francis Scott Key’s poem became national poetry. And 25 years later, the words “In God We Trust” became America’s official motto in 1956. Francis Scott Key functioned as one of America’s common referees.

Liberty to follow what I know

Our poets shall be our common referees. It was easy to see from the bloody aftermath of the French revolution (1789-1799) that unrestricted liberty had its drawbacks. I consider the greatness of America to be the liberty to follow what I know, the liberty to trust my deepest inclinations. The freedom of religion that America enshrined in its Constitution makes it possible for me to practice the New Message from God.

It took 117 years for the Star-Spangled Banner to become our national anthem. Right now, people are writing anthems for a unified humanity. Who knows, perhaps one of those anthems will be the anthem of Planet Earth in the year 2136.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

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