Defence of Fort M’Henry- Summary & Analysis

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About Poem- Defence of Fort M’Henry

Poem TitleDefence of Fort M’Henry
AuthorFrancis Scott Key
GenrePatriotic poem
Stanza count4
Rhyme schemeAABBCC
Date of WritingSeptember 14, 1814
SettingFort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland, during the War of 1812
MeterIambic tetrameter
BackgroundInspired by the defense of Fort McHenry during the
SignificanceThe poem was later set to music and became the
Key ThemesPatriotism, the defense of the nation, the resilience
StructureThe poem consists of four stanza

Themes- Defence of Fort M’Henry

The main themes of the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” by Francis Scott Key are:

  • American patriotism ➤ The poem is a celebration of American love of country and a declaration of pride in the American people.
  • Resilience ➤ The poem describes the American people’s ability to overcome challenges and hardships.
  • Faith in God ➤ The poem expresses the poet’s belief that God is on the side of the Americans and that He will help them to achieve victory.

“Defence of Fort M’Henry” Poem by Francis Scott Key

O! say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

    What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

    O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?

        And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

        Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there-

            O! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

            O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

    Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze o’er the towering steep,

    As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

        Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,

        In full glory reflected now shines on the stream –

            ‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave

            O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

    That the havock of war and the battle’s confusion

A home and a country should leave us no more?

    Their blood has wash’d out their foul foot-steps’ pollution,

        No refuge could save the hireling and slave,

        From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave;

            And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

            O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand

    Between their lov’d home, and the war’s desolation,

Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land

    Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!

        Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

        And this be our motto – “In God is our trust!”

            And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

            O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Defence of Fort M’Henry Summary & Analysis

Defence of Fort M’Henry” is a patriotic poem written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812. It later became the lyrics for the United States’ national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The poem, consisting of four stanzas, is a vivid portrayal of the resilience and determination of American soldiers defending Fort McHenry against British forces.

Stanza 1

In the first stanza, Key describes witnessing a fierce battle between British ships and the fort through the darkness of the night. The sight of the American flag, known as the “Star-Spangled Banner,” still waving over the fort, despite the relentless bombardment, fills him with a sense of hope and pride.

Stanza 2

The second stanza describes the intense bombardment of the fort, with rockets and bombs bursting in the air. Despite the chaos and destruction, the American flag remains unscathed, a symbol of the nation’s resilience and unwavering spirit.

Stanza 3

The third stanza emphasizes the bravery of the American soldiers who stand their ground, defending the fort. Key expresses his relief and joy at seeing the flag survive the onslaught, symbolizing the survival of the nation and its ideals.

Stanza 4

In the fourth and final stanza, Key reflects on the endurance of the American flag throughout the night. He sees it as a beacon of freedom and a source of inspiration for the American people. The poem concludes with a celebration of the American victory and the endurance of the flag, which represents the enduring spirit of the nation.


What is the defense of Fort McHenry history?

The poem tells the story of American soldiers defending Fort McHenry during a battle in the War of 1812.

Who defended Fort McHenry?

American soldiers defended Fort McHenry.

What is Fort McHenry famous for?

Fort McHenry is famous for the American flag surviving a battle.

Why did Key write the defense of Fort McHenry?

Key wrote the poem to describe the resilience of American soldiers and the survival of the American flag during a battle.

Why is it called Fort McHenry?

Fort McHenry is named after James McHenry, who was the Secretary of War of the United States during the construction of the fort.

Why did the British want to destroy Fort McHenry?

The British wanted to destroy Fort McHenry because it was protecting the city of Baltimore, a major American port.

What is the Battle of Fort McHenry called?

The Battle of Fort McHenry is called the Defense of Fort McHenry.

Who won Battle of Fort McHenry?

The Americans won the Battle of Fort McHenry.

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