Henry Holcomb Bennett (1863–1924), an Ohio-born author and poet, moved west after graduating from Kenyon College to work in the railroad business before returning to his hometown of Chillicothe as a journalist. By 1897, he left journalism to focus on more creative writing, including short stories and poems, often illustrating his own works (he was a landscape painter as well). His nonfiction work included essays about military life, Ohio history, and ornithology. Bennett’s most famous work remains this patriotic poem, first published in The Youth’s Companion on January 13, 1898. It was immediately included in several students’ readers around the turn of the century.
What is the mood of the poem? The first and last verses differ in only one line. What according to the poem happens to the bystanders to convert their experience from “A flash of color beneath the sky” to “loyal hearts are beating high”? Why does Bennett begin by commanding us to remove our hats as the flag passes by? What thoughts and feelings does the passing flag—both in the poem and in your lived experience—arouse in you?