Monday, May 05, 2008

Maryland, My Maryland?

I've lived in Maryland all of my life (minus the years I spent in Thailand). In all my years attending Maryland public schools, I was never informed of one very interesting tidbit about my home state. Its state song. I learned the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance, the state bird, flower and nickname. I learned about the historical significance of Annapolis and Baltimore and too many other towns to name. But not once in all those years did I ever hear the state song mentioned let alone sung.

As I helped my fourth grader do research for his state project, I was surprised to learn that most states do have state songs. We, of course, looked up Maryland's. It was written in 1861 by a Marylander who was living in Louisiana. If you want to be slightly amused and a little appalled, read the alarmingly long song (which is sun to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree and which I have cut down to a third of its length). Please notice the sections which I gleefully boldface typed.

Of course, you also must keep in mind the historical significance of the time, the cessation of the south, the battle waging between opposing factions. As a poem, the piece is a fantastic testimonial to how torn citizens must have been. As a song....well, see for yourself.

Maryland My Maryland
Written by James Ryder Randall

The despot's heel is on thy shore,
Maryland, My Maryland!
His torch is at thy temple door,
Maryland, My Maryland!
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Hark to an exiled son's appeal,
Maryland, My Maryland!
My Mother State! to thee I kneel,
Maryland, My Maryland!
For life and death, for woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird they beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not yield the vandal toll,
Maryland, My Maryland!
Thou wilt not crook to his control,
Maryland, My Maryland!
Better the fire upon thee roll,
Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I hear the distant thunder-hum,
Maryland, My Maryland!
The Old Line's bugle, fife, and drum,
Maryland, My Maryland!
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-
Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!Maryland My Maryland
She breathes, she burns, she'll come, she'll come. Maryland, my maryland.