Barbara Frietchie Poem by John Greenleaf Whittier

Barbara Frietchie

Rating: 3.1

Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,

The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree 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 head
Dies 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 light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.

Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids nor more.

Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewalls' bier.

Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

Peace and order and beauty draw
Round they symbol of light and law;

And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!

Tony Jennings 28 July 2009

I recite this to my S. Carolina friends when I see them it reminds them of home and recalls for me of standing in front of the class 66 years ago reciting it from memory for a visiting G.I. Colonel who was visiting my school on the eve of D-Day.

53 10 Reply
Steven Good 09 May 2005

I love this poem, and I remember it from very early school days.

46 10 Reply
Mauta Peter 28 March 2009

A great poem and deserving tribute to a deserving lady.

40 13 Reply

Those millionaire football players might do well to read Barbara Fritchie's poem by Whittier, and shed a tear of shame at what they do.

7 5 Reply
Agnes Potts my mum 25 August 2022

My my mum learnt this in 1916 at school My mother used to recite this to us after the war we

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Sandra Wilson 15 July 2020

What happened to the flag she stole?

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joe parisella 01 December 2019

I wish I could be that brave I pray that some still are

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william callens 28 February 2019

my mom taught me this poem whean I was 7

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LILLAH CARNAFFIN 07 February 2018

My mother taught me this poem when I was 10 years old.

8 1 Reply
willam 28 February 2019

that is cool

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John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier

Haverhill, Massachusetts
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