Here are my favorite poems about freedom categorized:
- Poems about freedom of life
- Poems about freedom and confinement
- Poems about freedom and power
- Poems about freedom and equality
- Short poems about freedom
So if you want the best poems about freedom, then you are in the right place.
- 103 Fearless Poems About Attitude
- 31 Exciting Poems About Character
- 95 Best Poems About Money
- 35 Valiant Poems About Heroes
- 23 Compelling Poems About Individuality
- 47 Freeing Poems About Being Yourself
- 35 Captivating Poems About Self-Love
Unshackling Poems About Freedom
Experience the power and importance of freedom through the best poems about this universal human right, all conveniently located in one place.
From verses that celebrate the freedom of life and the human spirit to poignant short pieces that explore the struggle for freedom in all its forms, you’ll find them all here.
Whether you’re seeking inspiration, solace, or simply a deeper understanding of what freedom means, the best poems about freedom are sure to leave you moved and uplifted.
Let’s jump right in!
My #1 Favorite Poem About Freedom
“The Freedom Of The Moon” by Robert Frost
I’ve tried the new moon tilted in the air
Above a hazy tree-and-farmhouse cluster
As you might try a jewel in your hair.
I’ve tried it fine with little breadth of luster,
Alone, or in one ornament combining
With one first-water start almost shining.
I put it shining anywhere I please.
By walking slowly on some evening later,
I’ve pulled it from a crate of crooked trees,
And brought it over glossy water, greater,
And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow,
The color run, all sorts of wonder follow.
Poems About Freedom of Life
“Bound and Free” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Come to me, Love! Come on the wings of the wind!
Fly as the ring-dove would fly to his mate!
Leave all your cares and your sorrows behind!
Leave all the fears of your future to Fate!
Come! and our skies shall be glad with the gold
That paled into gray when you parted from me.
Come! but remember that, just as of old,
You must be bound, Love, and I must be free.
Life has lost savour since you and I parted;
I have been lonely, and you have been sad.
Youth is too brief to be sorrowful-hearted—
Come! and again let us laugh and be glad.
Lips should not sigh that are fashioned to kiss—
Breasts should not ache that joy’s secret have found.
Come! but remember, in spite of all this,
I must be free, Love, while you must be bound.
You must be bound to be true while you live,
And I keep my freedom forever, as now.
You must ask only for that which I give—
Kisses and love-words, but never a vow.
Come! I am lonely, and long for your smile.
Bring back the lost lovely Summer to me!
Come! but remember, remember the while,
That you must be bound, Love, and I must be free.
“I Love To Walk Against The Yellow Light” by Philip Henry Savage
I love to walk against the yellow light,
The lemon-yellow of the first daylight,
When cold and clear above the frozen earth
The white sun rises far down to the right.
And then to think of life is very sweet;
The shackles fall and drop about one’s feet;
Till in the clear forgetfulness of morn
It seems the world and life are all complete.
‘T is good to be forgotten and forget;
To look upon the sun and so beget
A golden present, and a past that’s free,
A little time, of memory and regret.
And when one strikes and stumbles on a stone,
And turns to find the wingèd fancies flown —
Yet through the passages of life that day
Will run a radiance other than its own.
“The Free” by George William Russell
They bathed in the fire-flooded fountains;
Life girdled them round and about;
They slept in the clefts of the mountains:
The stars called them forth with a shout.
They prayed, but their worship was only
The wonder at nights and at days,
As still as the lips of the lonely
Though burning with dumbness of praise.
No sadness of earth ever captured
Their spirits who bowed at the shrine;
They fled to the Lonely enraptured
And hid in the Darkness Divine.
At twilight as children may gather
They met at the doorway of death,
The smile of the dark hidden Father
The Mother with magical breath.
Untold of in song or in story,
In days long forgotten of men,
Their eyes were yet blind with a glory
Time will not remember again.
“Libera Me” by Ernest Christopher Dowson
Goddess the laughter-loving, Aphrodite, befriend!
Long have I served thine altars, serve me now at the end,
Let me have peace of thee, truce of thee, golden one, send.
Heart of my heart have I offered thee, pain of my pain,
Yielding my life for the love of thee into thy chain;
Lady and goddess be merciful, loose me again.
All things I had that were fairest, my dearest and best,
Fed the fierce flames on thine altar: ah, surely, my breast
Shrined thee alone among goddesses, spurning the rest.
Blossom of youth thou hast plucked of me, flower of my days;
Stinted I nought in thine honouring, walked in thy ways,
Song of my soul pouring out to thee, all in thy praise.
Fierce was the flame while it lasted, and strong was thy wine,
Meet for immortals that die not, for throats such as thine,
Too fierce for bodies of mortals, too potent for mine.
Blossom and bloom hast thou taken, now render to me
Ashes of life that remain to me, few though they be,
Truce of the love of thee, Cyprian, let me go free.
Goddess the laughter-loving, Aphrodite, restore
Life to the limbs of me, liberty, hold me no more
Having the first-fruits and flower of me, cast me the core.
“Vacation Song” by Frank Dempster Sherman
When study and school are over,
How jolly it is to be free,
Away in the fields of clover,
The honey-sweet haunts of the bee!
Away in the woods to ramble,
Where, merrily all day long,
The birds in the bush and bramble
Are filling the summer with song.
Away in the dewy valley
To follow the murmuring brook,
Or sit on its bank and dally
Awhile with a line and a hook.
Away from the stir and bustle,
The noise of the town left behind:
Vacation for sport and muscle,
The winter for study and mind.
There’s never a need to worry,
There’s never a lesson to learn,
There’s never a bell to hurry,
There’s never a duty to spurn.
So play till the face grows ruddy
And muscles grow bigger, and then
Go back to the books and study;
We’ll find it as pleasant again.
“A Dream and A Song” by William Stanley Braithwaite
A dream comes in and a song goes forth;
The wind is south and the sun is north —
The daisies run on the dunes to the sea,
And over the world my soul goes free.
Ah, over the world to sing and roam
In the sun and wind- without a home
Till a woman’s heart shall dream and say:
“O song of the dreamer I bid you stay
And sing in my heart: make glad my feet
To run as the winds do, soft and fleet
Over the dunes and down to the sea,
Where Love came home in a dream to me.”
“Freedom” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
I care not who were vicious back of me,
No shadow of their sins on me is shed.
My will is greater than heredity.
I am no worm to feed upon the dead.
My face, my form, my gestures and my voice,
May be reflections from a race that was.
But this I know, and knowing it, rejoice,
I am Myself, a part of the Great Cause.
I am a spirit! Spirit would suffice,
If rightly used, to set a chained world free.
Am I not stronger than a mortal vice
That crawls the length of some ancestral tree?
“Apostate” by Léonie Adams
From weariness I looked out on the stars
And there beheld them, fixed in throbbing joy,
Nor racked by such mad dance of moods as mars
For us each moment’s grace with swift alloy.
And as they pierced the heavens’ serene deep
An envy of that one consummate part
Swept me, who mock. Whether I laugh or weep,
Some inner silences are at my heart.
Cold shame is mine for all the masks I wear,
Belying that in me which shines and sings
Before Him, to face down man’s alien stare—
A graceless puppet on unmeaning strings,
I that looked out, and saw, and was at rest,
Stars, and faint wings, rose-etched along the west.
“The Lake Isle” by Ezra Pound
O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Give me in due time, I beseech you, a little tobacco-shop,
With the little bright boxes
piled up neatly upon the shelves
And the loose fragrant cavendish
and the shag,
And the bright Virginia
loose under the bright glass cases,
And a pair of scales
not too greasy,
And the volailles dropping in for a word or two in passing,
For a flip word, and to tidy their hair a bit.
O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Lend me a little tobacco-shop,
or install me in any profession
Save this damn’d profession of writing,
where one needs one’s brains all the time.
“When Evening” by Philip Henry Savage
When evening comes and shadows gray
Steal out across the glimmering bay
And tremble in the air between;
When evening comes and shadows green
Are shaken down across the moor
From willow-trees along the shore;
When evening stoops across the hill
Towards the sunset glowing still
And fills the hollow glens with shade;
When evening gathers in the glade;
And all the little beasts now run
That erst were hidden from the sun;
Then do I hear the footsteps fall
That bitter day hears not at all;
Then is the sunset like a door
That leads me on to more and more,
Till in the quietness of night
I find a freedom and a light
Eternal such as nowhere glows
From any sun that ever rose.
“Applause” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
I hold it one of the sad certain laws
Which makes our failures sometimes seem more kind
Than that success which brings sure loss behind—
True greatness dies, when sounds the world’s applause.
Fame blights the object it would bless, because
Weighed down with men’s expectancy, the mind
Can no more soar to those far heights, and find
That freedom which its inspiration was.
When once we listen to its noisy cheers
Or hear the populace’ approval, then
We catch no more the music of the spheres,
Or walk with gods, and angels, but with men.
Till, impotent from our self-conscious fears,
The plaudits of the world turn into sneers.
“That Glove” by Mary E. Tucker
Why cherish thus the senseless thing?
Do memories around it cling
Of joys long past?
Or does it speak of present bliss?
Do sweet last word, or parting kiss,
Charms o’er it cast?
Now were it but a thing with life,
In which were earthly passions rife,
Then I could see
Why you should press it to your heart,
Nor let it from your hand depart —
It cannot flee.
You touch it, and you are unmann’d —
I hold it passive in my hand —
No thrill of love
Shoots through my veins; you bow before it,
The loving slave of her who wore it —
That white kid glove!
You fought for freedom. You were brave,
I grant it. Even now you rave
Yet you are subject of a queen,
Whose power greater is, I ween,
Than Yankee nation.
Yes, e’en the touch of her small hand
Is equal to a stern command,
Because you love.
You walk submissive in her band,
And when you cannot hold her hand,
You hold her glove.
I do not judge thee — go thy way.
I have a glove — (what can I say?)
And I adore it.
Ah! often in the hours for sleep,
I kiss the glove, and sadly weep
For one who wore it.
“At Night” by Amy Lowell
The wind is singing through the trees to-night,
A deep-voiced song of rushing cadences
And crashing intervals. No summer breeze
Is this, though hot July is at its height,
Gone is her gentler music; with delight
She listens to this booming like the seas,
These elemental, loud necessities
Which call to her to answer their swift might.
Above the tossing trees shines down a star,
Quietly bright; this wild, tumultuous joy
Quickens nor dims its splendour. And my mind,
O Star! is filled with your white light, from far,
So suffer me this one night to enjoy
The freedom of the onward sweeping wind.
“Baby’s Way” by Rabindranath Tagore
If baby only wanted to,
he could fly up to heaven this moment.
It is not for nothing that he does not leave us.
He loves to rest his head on mother’s bosom,
and cannot ever bear to lose sight of her.
Baby know all manner of wise words,
though few on earth can understand their meaning.
It is not for nothing that he never wants to speak.
The one thing he wants
is to learn mother’s words from mother’s lips.
That is why he looks so innocent.
Baby had a heap of gold and pearls,
yet he came like a beggar on to this earth.
It is not for nothing he came in such a disguise.
This dear little naked mendicant
pretends to be utterly helpless,
so that he may beg for mother’s wealth of love.
Baby was so free from every tie
in the land of the tiny crescent moon.
It was not for nothing he gave up his freedom.
He knows that there is room for endless joy
in mother’s little corner of a heart,
and it is sweeter far than liberty to be caught
and pressed in her dear arms.
Baby never knew how to cry.
He dwelt in the land of perfect bliss.
It is not for nothing he has chosen to shed tears.
Though with the smile of his dear face
he draws mother’s yearning heart to him,
yet his little cries over tiny troubles
weave the double bond of pity and love.
“The Platonic Lady” by John Wilmot
I could love thee till I die,
Would’st thou love me modestly,
And ne’er press, whilst I live,
For more than willingly I would give:
Which should sufficient be to prove
I’d understand the art of love.
I hate the thing is called enjoyment:
Besides it is a dull employment,
It cuts off all that’s life and fire
From that which may be termed desire;
Just like the bee whose sting is gone
Converts the owner to a drone.
I love a youth will give me leave
His body in my arms to wreathe;
To press him gently, and to kiss;
To sigh, and look with eyes that wish
For what, if I could once obtain,
I would neglect with flat disdain.
I’d give him liberty to toy
And play with me, and count it joy.
Our freedom should be full complete,
And nothing wanting but the feat.
Let’s practice, then, and we shall prove
These are the only sweets of love
“My Hermitage” by Alexander Posey
Between me and the noise of strife
Are walls of mountains set with pine;
The dusty, care-strewn paths of life
Lead not to this retreat of mine.
I hear the morning wind awake
Beyond the purple height,
And, in the growing light,
The lap of lilies on the lake.
I live with Echo and with Song,
And Beauty leads me forth to see
Her temple’s colonnades, and long
Together do we love to be.
The mountains wall me in, complete,
And leave me but a bit blue
Above. All year, the days are sweet—
How sweet! And all the long nights thro’
I hear the river flowing by
Along its sandy bars;
Behold, far in the midnight sky,
An infinite of stars!
‘Tis sweet, when all is still,
When darkness gathers round,
To hear, from hill to hill,
The far, the wandering sound.
The cedar and the pine
Have pitched their tents with me.
What freedom vast is mine!
What room! What mystery!
Upon the dreamy southern breeze,
That steals in like a laden bee
And sighs for rest among the trees,
Are far-blown bits of melody.
What afterglows the twilight hold,
The darkening skies along!
And O, what rose-like dawns unfold,
That smite the hills to song!
High in the solitude of air,
The gray hawk circles on and on,
Till, like a spirit soaring there,
His image pales and he is gone!
“Sonnet 46” by William Shakespeare
Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war
How to divide the conquest of thy sight;
Mine eye my heart thy picture’s sight would bar,
My heart mine eye the freedom of that right.
My heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie,—
A closet never pierced with crystal eyes—
But the defendant doth that plea deny
And says in him thy fair appearance lies.
To ’cide this title is impaneled
A quest of thoughts, all tenants to the heart,
And by their verdict is determined
The clear eye’s moiety and the dear heart’s part:
As thus; mine eye’s due is thy outward part,
And my heart’s right thy inward love of heart.
“A Japanese Wood-Carving” by Amy Lowell
High up above the open, welcoming door
It hangs, a piece of wood with colours dim.
Once, long ago, it was a waving tree
And knew the sun and shadow through the leaves
Of forest trees, in a thick eastern wood.
The winter snows had bent its branches down,
The spring had swelled its buds with coming flowers,
Summer had run like fire through its veins,
While autumn pelted it with chestnut burrs,
And strewed the leafy ground with acorn cups.
Dark midnight storms had roared and crashed among
Its branches, breaking here and there a limb;
But every now and then broad sunlit days
Lovingly lingered, caught among the leaves.
Yes, it had known all this, and yet to us
It does not speak of mossy forest ways,
Of whispering pine trees or the shimmering birch;
But of quick winds, and the salt, stinging sea!
An artist once, with patient, careful knife,
Had fashioned it like to the untamed sea.
Here waves uprear themselves, their tops blown back
By the gay, sunny wind, which whips the blue
And breaks it into gleams and sparks of light.
Among the flashing waves are two white birds
Which swoop, and soar, and scream for very joy
At the wild sport. Now diving quickly in,
Questing some glistening fish. Now flying up,
Their dripping feathers shining in the sun,
While the wet drops like little glints of light,
Fall pattering backward to the parent sea.
Gliding along the green and foam-flecked hollows,
Or skimming some white crest about to break,
The spirits of the sky deigning to stoop
And play with ocean in a summer mood.
Hanging above the high, wide open door,
It brings to us in quiet, firelit room,
The freedom of the earth’s vast solitudes,
Where heaping, sunny waves tumble and roll,
And seabirds scream in wanton happiness.
“A Last Word” by Ernest Dowson
Let us go hence: the night is now at hand;
The day is overworn, the birds all flown;
And we have reaped the crops the gods have sown;
Despair and death; deep darkness o’er the land,
Broods like an owl; we cannot understand
Laughter or tears, for we have only known
Surpassing vanity: vain things alone
Have driven our perverse and aimless band.
Let us go hence, somewhither strange and cold,
To Hollow Lands where just men and unjust
Find end of labour, where’s rest for the old,
Freedom to all from love and fear and lust.
Twine our torn hands! O pray the earth enfold
Our life-sick hearts and turn them into dust.
“Birds In Summer” by Mary Howitt
How pleasant the life of a bird must be,
Flitting about in each leafy tree;
In the leafy trees so broad and tall,
Like a green and beautiful palace hall,
With its airy chambers light and boon,
That open to sun and stars and moon;
That open to the bright blue sky,
And the frolicsome winds as they wander by.
They have left their nests on the forest bough;
Those homes of delight they need not now;
And the young and the old they wander out,
And traverse their green world round about;
And hark! at the top of this leafy hall,
How one to the other in love they call!
“Come up! Come up!” they seem to say,
“Where the topmost twigs in the breezes sway.”
“Come up! come up! for the world is fair
Where the merry leaves dance in the summer air.”
And the birds below give back the cry,
“We come, we come to the branches high.”
How pleasant the lives of the birds must be,
Living in love in a leafy tree!
And away through the air what joy to go,
And to look on the green, bright earth below!
How pleasant the life of a bird must be,
Skimming about on the breezy sea,
Cresting the billows like silvery foam,
Then wheeling away to its cliff-built home!
What joy it must be to sail, upborne,
By a strong free wing, through the rosy morn,
To meet the young sun, face to face,
And pierce, like a shaft, the boundless space!
To pass through the bowers of the silver cloud;
To sing in the thunder hall aloud;
To spread out the wings for a wild, free flight
With the upper cloud-wings,-oh, what delight!
Oh, what would I give, like a bird, to go,
Right on through the arch of the sun-lit bow,
And see how the water-drops are kissed
Into green and yellow and amethyst.
How pleasant the life of a bird must be,
Wherever it listeth, there to flee;
To go, when a joyful fancy calls,
Dashing down ‘mong the waterfalls;
Then wheeling about, with its mate at play,
Above and below, and among the spray,
Hither and thither, with screams as wild
As the laughing mirth of a rosy child.
What joy it must be, like a living breeze,
To flutter about ‘mid the flowering trees;
Lightly to soar, and to see beneath,
The wastes of the blossoming purple heath,
And the yellow furze, like fields of gold,
That gladdened some fairy region old!
On the mountain tops, on the billowy sea,
On the leafy stems of a forest tree,
How pleasant the life of a bird must be!
Poems About Freedom and Confinement
“Experience” by Frank Dempster Sherman
When I set free my Golden-wing,
Straight to the open fields he flew,
But never once I heard him sing
The songs which in his cage he knew.
I followed him and left behind
The narrow room where came to me
The dreams which I was wont to bind
In sheaves of song and melody.
Alas! the happy dreams no more
Would turn to music on my lute:
Gone was the joy I knew before,
And liberty had made me mute.
So now my Golden-wing and I
Come gladly back to cage and den
To hear the dreams go singing by
And find life full of song again.
“At Home” by Christina Rossetti
When I was dead, my spirit turned
To seek the much-frequented house:
I passed the door, and saw my friends
Feasting beneath green orange boughs;
From hand to hand they pushed the wine,
They sucked the pulp of plum and peach;
They sang, they jested, and they laughed,
For each was loved of each.
I listened to their honest chat:
Said one: ‘To-morrow we shall be
Plod plod along the featureless sands
And coasting miles and miles of sea.’
Said one: ‘Before the turn of tide
We will achieve the eyrie-seat.’
Said one: ‘To-morrow shall be like
To-day, but much more sweet.’
‘To-morrow,’ said they, strong with hope,
And dwelt upon the pleasant way:
‘To-morrow,’ cried they one and all,
While no one spoke of yesterday.
Their life stood full at blessed noon;
I, only I, had passed away:
‘To-morrow and to-day,’ they cried;
I was of yesterday.
I shivered comfortless, but cast
No chill across the tablecloth;
I all-forgotten shivered, sad
To stay and yet to part how loth:
I passed from the familiar room,
I who from love had passed away,
Like the remembrance of a guest
That tarrieth but a day.
“Where We Differ” by William Henry Davies
To think my thoughts are hers,
Not one of hers is mine;
She laughs — while I must sigh;
She sighs — while I must whine.
She eats — while I must fast;
She reads — while I am blind;
She sleeps — while I must wake;
Free — I no freedom find.
To think the world for me
Contains but her alone,
And that her eyes prefer
Some ribbon, scarf, or stone.
“Freedom” by George William Russell
I will not follow you, my bird,
I will not follow you.
I would not breathe a word, my bird,
To bring thee here anew.
I love the free in thee, my bird,
The lure of freedom drew;
The light you fly toward, my bird,
I fly with thee unto.
And there we yet will meet, my bird,
Though far I go from you
Where in the light outpoured, my bird,
Are love and freedom too.
“A Snare” by Frank Dempster Sherman
Love I locked upon a time
In the fetters of my rhyme,
Bound his feet and fixed his hands
Firm in fancy-forgèd bands,
Fastened with a dainty twist
Couplet-gyves around his wrist.
Sealed his lips and left him dumb,
Prisoner till She should come.
Then I said unto my Heart:
“By this magic, by this art,
You shall learn if She be kind
To your constancy, or blind:
Like the rhyme your chains are stout:
Captive in the dungeon Doubt,
There you languish at the door
Praying freedom evermore.
If She pity Love’s distress,—
If, with maiden tenderness,
She his bands and fetters slip,
Murmuring with trembling lip
Linkèd music of my song,—
Be of cheer; for then, erelong,
At your bars her face you’ll see,—
Then the lock shall feel the key
Turn its rusty round,—and then,
Love know liberty again!”
“The Plains of Peace” by Olivia Ward Bush-Banks
Again my fancy takes its flight,
And soars away on thoughtful wing,
Again my soul thrills with delight,
And this the fancied theme, I sing,
From Earthly scenes awhile, I find release,
And dwell upon the restful Plains of Peace.
The Plains of Peace are passing fair,
Where naught disturbs and naught can harm,
I find no sorrow, woe or care,
These all are lost in perfect calm,
Bright are the joys, and pleasures never cease,
For those who dwell on the Plains of Peace.
No scorching sun or blighting storm,
No burning sand or desert drear,
No fell disease or wasting form,
To mar the glowing beauty here.
Decay and ruin ever must decrease,
Here on the fertile, healthful Plains of Peace.
What rare companionship I find,
What hours of social joy I spend,
What restfulness pervades my mind,
Communing with congenial friend.
True happiness seems ever to increase,
While dwelling here upon the Plains of Peace.
Ambitions too, are realized,
And that which I have sought on earth,
I find at last idealized,
My longings ripen into worth,
My fondest hopes no longer fear decease,
But bloom forth brightly on the Plains of Peace.
‘Tis by my fancy, yet ’tis true,
That somewhere having done with Earth,
We shall another course pursue,
According to our aim or worth,
Our souls from mortal things must find release,
And dwell immortal on the Plains of Peace.
“The Canary” by Frank Dempster Sherman
Up in your cage of gold,
Singing us all awake,
What, if it might be told,
What is the wish you’d make?
Is it, “I’d like to be
Out in the open air,
Out of this Cage, and free,
Free to go anywhere?”
You’re such a happy bird,
Caroling all day long,
Nobody ever heard
You sing a solemn song.
So I have come to think
This is your carol sweet:
“Plenty have I to drink,
Plenty have I to eat;
“So I’m content to stay
Here in my golden ring,
Nothing to do all day,
Only to eat and sing.”
“Prisoners” by Hilda Dolittle
It is strange that I should want
this sight of your face—
we have had so much:
at any moment now I may pass,
stand near the gate,
do not speak—
only reach if you can, your face
half-fronting the passage
toward the light.
Fate—God sends this as a mark,
a last token that we are not forgot,
lost in this turmoil,
about to be crushed out,
burned or stamped out
at best with sudden death.
The spearsman who brings this
will ask for the gold clasp
you wear under your coat.
I gave all I had left.
Press close to the portal,
my gate will soon clang
and your fellow wretches
will crowd to the entrance—
be first at the gate.
Ah beloved, do not speak.
I write this in great haste—
do not speak,
you may yet be released.
I am glad enough to depart
though I have never tasted life
as in these last weeks.
It is a strange life,
patterned in fire and letters
on the prison pavement.
If I glance up
it is written on the walls,
it is cut on the floor,
it is patterned across
the slope of the roof.
I am weak—weak—
last night if the guard
had left the gate unlocked
I could not have ventured to escape,
but one thought serves me now
As I pass down the corridor
past desperate faces at each cell,
your eyes and my eyes may meet.
You will be dark, unkempt,
but I pray for one glimpse of your face—
why do I want this?
I who have seen you at the banquet
each flower of your hyacinth-circlet
white against your hair.
Why do I want this,
when even last night
you startled me from sleep?
You stood against the dark rock,
you grasped an elder staff.
So many nights
you have distracted me from terror.
Once you lifted a spear-flower.
I remember how you stooped
to gather it—
and it flamed, the leaf and shoot
and the threads, yellow, yellow—
sheer till they burnt
to red-purple in the cup.
As I pass your cell-door
do not speak.
I was first on the list—
They may forget you tried to shield me
as the horsemen passed.
“How I Became a Madman (Prologue)” by Kahlil Gibran
You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen,—the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives,—I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.”
Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me.
And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.”
Thus I became a madman.
And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.
But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.
“On Liberty and Slavery” by George Moses Horton
Alas! and am I born for this,
To wear this slavish chain?
Deprived of all created bliss,
Through hardship, toil, and pain!
How long have I in bondage lain,
And languished to be free!
Alas! and must I still complain–
Deprived of liberty.
Oh, Heaven! and is there no relief
This side the silent grave–
To soothe the pain–to quell the grief
And anguish of a slave?
Come, Liberty, thou cheerful sound,
Roll through my ravished ears!
Come, let my grief in joys be drowned,
And drive away my fears.
Say unto foul oppression, Cease:
Ye tyrants rage no more,
And let the joyful trump of peace,
Now bid the vassal soar.
Soar on the pinions of that dove
Which long has cooed for thee,
And breathed her notes from Afric’s grove,
The sound of Liberty.
Oh, Liberty! thou golden prize,
So often sought by blood–
We crave thy sacred sun to rise,
The gift of nature’s God!
Bid Slavery hide her haggard face,
And barbarism fly:
I scorn to see the sad disgrace
In which enslaved I lie.
Dear Liberty! upon thy breast,
I languish to respire;
And like the Swan upon her nest,
I’d to thy smiles retire.
Oh, blest asylum–heavenly balm!
Unto thy boughs I flee–
And in thy shades the storm shall calm,
With songs of Liberty!
“The Peacemaker” by Joyce Kilmer
Upon his will he binds a radiant chain,
For Freedom’s sake he is no longer free.
It is his task, the slave of Liberty,
With his own blood to wipe away a stain.
That pain may cease, he yields his flesh to pain.
To banish war, he must a warrior be.
He dwells in Night, eternal Dawn to see,
And gladly dies, abundant life to gain.
What matters Death, if Freedom be not dead?
No flags are fair, if Freedom’s flag be furled.
Who fights for Freedom, goes with joyful tread
To meet the fires of Hell against him hurled,
And has for captain Him whose thorn-wreathed head
Smiles from the Cross upon a conquered world.
“On Freedom” by Kahlil Gibran
And an orator said, Speak to us of Freedom.
And he answered:
At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,
Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.
Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.
And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfilment.
You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,
But rather when these things girdle your life and yet your rise above them naked and unbound.
And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?
In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle your eyes.
And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free?
If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead.
You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them.
And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed.
For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their own pride?
And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you.
And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.
Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded,the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.
These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling.
And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.
And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.
Poems About Freedom and Power
“The Guerilla” by John Brainard
Though friends are false, and leaders fail,
And rulers quake with fear;
Though tamed the shepherd in the vale,
Though slain the mountaineer;
Though Spanish beauty fill their arms,
And Spanish gold their purse—
Sterner than wealth’s or war’s alarms,
Is the wild Guerrilla’s curse.
No trumpets range us to the fight;
No signal sound of drum
Tells to the foe, that in their might
The hostile squadrons come.
No sunbeam glitters on our spears,
No warlike tramp of steeds
Gives warning —for the first that hears
Shall be the first that bleeds.
The night breeze calls us from our bed,
At dewfall forms the line,
And darkness gives the signal dread
That makes our ranks combine:
Or should some straggling moonbeam lie
On copse or lurking hedge,
‘T would flash but from a Spaniard’s eye,
Or from a dagger’s edge.
‘T is clear in the sweet vale below,
And misty on the hill;
The skies shine mildly on the foe,
But four upon us still.
This gathering storm shall quickly burst,
And spread its terrors far,
And at its front we’ll be the first,
And with it go to war.
O! the mountain peak shall safe remain —
‘T is the vale shall be despoiled,
And the tame hamlets of the plain
With ruin shall run wild;
But Liberty shall breathe our air
Upon the mountain head,
And Freedom’s breezes wander here,
Here all their fragrance shed.
“The Dying Bondman” by Frances Ellen Watkins
Life was trembling, faintly trembling
On the bondman’s latest breath,
And he felt the chilling pressure
Of the cold, hard hand of Death.
He had been an Afric chieftain,
Worn his manhood as a crown;
But upon the field of battle
Had been fiercely stricken down.
He had longed to gain his freedom,
Waited, watched and hoped in vain,
Till his life was slowly ebbing —
Almost broken was his chain.
By his bedside stood the master,
Gazing on the dying one,
Knowing by the dull grey shadows
That life’s sands were almost run.
“Master,” said the dying bondman,
“Home and friends I soon shall see;
But before I reach my country,
Master write that I am free;
“For the spirits of my fathers
Would shrink back from me in pride,
If I told them at our greeting
I a slave had lived and died;
“Give to me the precious token,
That my kindred dead may see —
Master! write it, write it quickly!
Master! write that I am free!”
At his earnest plea the master
Wrote for him the glad release,
O’er his wan and wasted features
Flitted one sweet smile of peace.
Eagerly he grasped the writing;
“I am free!” at last he said.
Backward fell upon the pillow,
He was free among the dead.
“The Flower of Liberty” by Oliver Wendell Holmes
What flower is this that greets the morn,
Its hues from heaven so freshly born?
With burning star and flaming band
It kindles all the sunset land;—
O, tell us what its name may be!
Is this the Flower of Liberty?
It is the banner of the free,
The starry Flower of Liberty!
In savage Nature’s far abode
Its tender seed our fathers sowed;
The storm-winds rocked its swelling bud,
Its opening leaves were streaked with blood,
Till, lo! earth’s tyrants shook to see
The full-blown Flower of Liberty!
Then hail the banner of the free,
The starry Flower of Liberty!
Behold its streaming rays unite
One mingling flood of braided light,—
The red that fires the Southern rose,
With spotless white from Northern snows,
And, spangled o’er its azure, see
The sister Stars of Liberty!
Then hail the banner of the free,
The starry Flower of Liberty!
The blades of heroes fence it round;
Where’er it springs is holy ground;
From tower and dome its glories spread;
It waves where lonely sentries tread;
It makes the land as ocean free,
And plants an empire on the sea!
Then hail the banner of the free,
The starry Flower of Liberty!
Thy sacred leaves, fair Freedom’s flower,
Shall ever float on dome and tower,
To all their heavenly colors true,
In blackening frost or crimson dew,—
And GOD love us as we love thee,
Thrice holy Flower of Liberty!
Then hail the banner of the free,
The starry Flower of Liberty!
“Mare Liberum” by Henry van Dyke
You dare to say with perjured lips,
“We fight to make the ocean free”?
You, whose black trail of butchered ships
Bestrews the bed of every sea
Where German submarines have wrought
Their horrors! Have you never thought,—
What you call freedom, men call piracy!
Unnumbered ghosts that haunt the wave
Where you have murdered, cry you down;
And seamen whom you would not save,
Weave now in weed-grown depths a crown
Of shame for your imperious head,—
A dark memorial of the dead,—
Women and children whom you left to drown
Nay, not till thieves are set to guard
The gold, and corsairs called to keep
O’er peaceful commerce watch and ward,
And wolves to herd the helpless sheep,
Shall men and women look to thee—
Thou ruthless Old Man of the Sea—
To safeguard law and freedom on the deep!
In nobler breeds we put our trust:
The nations in whose sacred lore
The “Ought” stands out above the “Must,”
And Honor rules in peace and war.
With these we hold in soul and heart,
With these we choose our lot and part,
Till Liberty is safe on sea and shore.
“Of Old Sat Freedom on the Heights” by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Of old sat Freedom on the heights,
The thunders breaking at her feet:
Above her shook the starry lights:
She heard the torrents meet.
There in her place she did rejoice,
Self-gather’d in her prophet-mind,
But fragments of her mighty voice
Came rolling on the wind.
Then stept she down thro’ town and field
To mingle with the human race,
And part by part to men reveal’d
The fulness of her face—
Grave mother of majestic works,
From her isle-altar gazing down,
Who, God-like, grasps the triple forks,
And, King-like, wears the crown:
Her open eyes desire the truth.
The wisdom of a thousand years
Is in them. May perpetual youth
Keep dry their light from tears;
That her fair form may stand and shine,
Make bright our days and light our dreams,
Turning to scorn with lips divine
The falsehood of extremes!
“Everyone Sang” by Siegfried Sassoon
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark green fields; on; on; and out of sight.
Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted,
And beauty came like the setting sun.
My heart was shaken with tears and horror
Drifted away … O but every one
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
“Liberty” by Robert Herrick
Those ills that mortal men endure
So long, are capable of cure,
As they of freedom may be sure;
But, that denied, a grief, though small,
Shakes the whole roof, or ruins all.
“Oriflamme” by Jessie Redmon Fauset
I think I see her sitting bowed and black,
Stricken and seared with slavery’s mortal scars,
Reft of her children, lonely, anguished, yet
Still looking at the stars.
Symbolic mother, we thy myriad sons,
Pounding our stubborn hearts on Freedom’s bars,
Clutching our birthright, fight with faces set,
Still visioning the stars!
“Home, Sweet Home” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Sharers of a common country,
They had met in deadly strife;
Men who should have been as brothers
Madly sought each other’s life.
In the silence of the even,
When the cannon’s lips were dumb,
Thoughts of home and all its loved ones
To the soldier’s heart would come.
On the margin of a river,
‘Mid the evening’s dews and damps,
Could be heard the sounds of music
Rising from two hostile camps.
One was singing of its section
Down in Dixie, Dixie’s land,
And the other of the banner
Waved too long from strand to strand.
In the lawn where Dixie’s ensign
Floated o’er the hopeful slave,
Rose the song that freedom’s banner,
Starry-lighted, long might wave.
From the fields of strife and carnage,
Gentle thoughts began to roam,
And a tender strain of music
Rose with words of “Home, Sweet Home.”
Then the hearts of strong men melted,
For amid our grief and sin
Still remains that “touch of nature,”
Telling us we all are kin.
In one grand but gentle chorus,
Floating to the starry dome,
Came the words that brought them nearer,
Words that told of “Home, Sweet Home.”
For awhile, all strife forgotten,
They were only brothers then,
Joining in the sweet old chorus,
Not as soldiers, but as men.
Men whose hearts would flow together,
Though apart their feet might roam,
Found a tie they could not sever,
In the mem’ry of each home.
Never may the steps of carnage
Shake our land from shore to shore,
But may mother, home and Heaven,
Be our watchwords evermore.
Poems About Freedom and Equality
“Susan B. Anthony” by Katharine Rolston Fisher
Her life is a luminous banner borne ever ahead of her era, in
lead of the forces of freedom,
Where wrongs for justice call.
High-hearted, far-sighted, she pressed with noble intrepid impatience,
one race and the half of another
To liberate from thrall.
If now in its freedom her spirit mingle with ours and find us
toiling at dusk to finish
The task of her long day,
On ground hard held to the last, gaining her goal for women,
if for her word we hearken,
May we not hear her say:
“Comrades and daughters exultant, let my goal for you be a mile-
stone. Too late have you won it to linger.
Victory flies ahead.
Though women march millions abreast on a widening way to free-
dom, trails there are still for women
Fearless to break and tread.
“Keep watch on power as it passes, on liberty’s torch as it
travels, lest woman be left with a symbol,
No flame in her lamp alive.
In the mine, the mill and the mart where is bartered the bread of
your children, is forged the power you strove for,
For which you still must strive.”
Her spirit like southern starlight at once is afar and around us;
her message an inward singing
Through all our life to run:
“Forward together, my daughters, till born of your faith with
each other and of brotherhood all the world over,
For all is freedom won.”
“Freedom” by Ambrose Bierce
Freedom, as every schoolboy knows,
Once shrieked as Kosciusko fell;
On every wind, indeed, that blows
I hear her yell.
She screams whenever monarchs meet,
And parliaments as well,
To bind the chains about her feet
And toll her knell.
And when the sovereign people cast
The votes they cannot spell,
Upon the pestilential blast
Her clamors swell.
For all to whom the power’s given
To sway or to compel,
Among themselves apportion Heaven
And give her Hell.
“Reveille” by Lola Ridge
Come forth, you workers!
Let the fires go cold—
Let the iron spill out, out of the troughs—
Let the iron run wild
Like a red bramble on the floors—
Leave the mill and the foundry and the mine
And the shrapnel lying on the wharves—
Leave the desk and the shuttle and the loom—
With your ashen lives,
Your lives like dust in your hands.
I call upon you, workers.
It is not yet light
But I beat upon your doors.
You say you await the Dawn
But I say you are the Dawn.
Come, in your irresistible unspent force
And make new light upon the mountains.
You have turned deaf ears to others—
Me you shall hear.
Out of the mouths of turbines,
Out of the turgid throats of engines,
Over the whisling steam,
You shall hear me shrilly piping.
Your mills I shall enter like the wind,
And blow upon your hearts,
Kindling the slow fire.
They think they have tamed you, workers—
Beaten you to a tool
To scoop up a hot honor
Till it be cool—
But out of the passion of the red frontiers
A great flower trembles and burns and glows
And each of its petals is a people.
Come forth, you workers—
Clinging to your stable
And your wisp of warm straw—
Let the fires grow cold,
Let the iron spill out of the troughs,
Let the iron run wild
Like a red bramble on the floors . . .
As our forefathers stood on the prairies
So let us stand in a ring,
Let us tear up their prisons like grass
And beat them to barricades—
Let us meet the fire of their guns
With a greater fire,
Till the birds shall fly to the mountains
For one safe bough.
“Gitanjali 35” by Rabindranath Tagore
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action—
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
“To A Reformer” by Grace Greenwood
“Enthusiast,” “Dreamer,” — such the names
Thine age bestows on thee,
For that great nature, going forth
In world-wide sympathy;
For the vision clear, the spirit brave,
The honest heart and warm,
And the voice which swells the battle-cry
Of Freedom and Reform!
Yet, for thy fearless manliness,
When weak time-servers throng, —
Thy chivalrous defence of right,
Thy hold rebuke of wrong, —
And for the flame of liberty,
Heaven-kindled in thy breast,
Which thou hast fed like sacred fire, —
A blessing on thee rest!
‘T is said thy spirit knoweth not
Its times of calm and sleeping,
That ever are its restless thoughts
Like wild waves onward leaping.
Then may its flashing waters
Be tranquil never more, —
They are “troubled” by an angel,
Like the sacred pool of yore.
“Song for Equal Suffrage” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Day of hope and day of glory! After slavery and woe,
Comes the dawn of woman’s freedom, and the light shall grow and grow
Until every man and woman equal liberty shall know,
In Freedom marching on!
Woman’s right is woman’s duty! For our share in life we call!
Our will it is not weakened and our power it is not small.
We are half of every nation! We are mothers of them all!
In Wisdom marching on!
Not for self but larger service has our cry for freedom grown,
There is crime, disease and warfare in a world of men alone,
In the name of love we’re rising now to serve and save our own,
As Peace comes marching on!
By every sweet and tender tie around our heartstrings curled,
In the cause of nobler motherhood is woman’s flag unfurled,
Till every child shall know the joy and peace of mother’s world–
As Love comes marching on!
We will help to make a pruning hook of every outgrown sword,
We will help to knit the nations in continuing accord,
In humanity made perfect is the glory of the Lord,
As His world goes marching on!
“Militants to Certain Other Women” by Katharine Rolston Fisher
You who pass coldly by when the police rush upon us,
When they wrench away our banners,
(Beautiful banners whose colors cry a demand for liberty)
You who criticize or condemn
(Declaring you “believe in suffrage,
Worked for it in your state, and your mother
knew Susan B. Anthony”)
Can you think in terms of a nation?
Could you die, (or face ridicule) for your belief?
For the freedom of women, for your freedom,
we are fighting;
For your safety we face danger, bear torture;
For your honor endure untellable insult.
To win democracy for you we defend the banners of democracy
Till our banners and our bodies
Are flung together on the pavement,
Waiting at the gates of government,
We have made of our weariness a symbol
Of women’s long wait for justice.
We have borne the hunger and hardship of prison,
To open people’s eyes
To men’s determination to imprison the power of women.
You women who pass coldly by,
Do you imagine your freedom is coming
As a summer wind blows over fields?
Slowly it has advanced by a sixty-years’ war,
(Those who have fought in it have not forgotten)
And that war is not won.
Strongly entrenched, the foe sits plotting.
Close to his lines our banners fly,
Signalling where to direct the fire,
Greater forces are needed, reserves and recruits.
Are you for winning or for waiting,
Women who watch the banners go down?
Women who say, “Suffrage is coming,”
While suffrage goes by you into Prussia?
Case to be content with applauding speeches, and praising politicians.
Patience is shameful.
Awake, rise, and act
“A Protest from Italy” by Julia Ward Howe
Amid Italian orange groves,
A distant murmur reached mine ear,
The wrangling tongues of Western men,
Each, crossed at arms with his compeer.
In that fair land, where passions rage
Briefly, through Nature’s gentleness;
Where the black eyebrows’ direst forwn,
Must yield to the soft air’s caress;
Where even curses fall in words
Whose beauty heals the wound they make;
(Though strong to feel, those Southern hearts,
They’re timid to o’erturn and break;)
I felt my life so calm and deep,
Such rapture, settling to such peace,
I sighed: ‘Hush! hush! my countrymen—
Let this untempered babbling cease!
‘Ye who assert your rights in men,
What right is worth such evil blood?
You—frantic champions of the slave,
Bethink—God orders all for good.
‘Shake not thus ruthlessly your cup
Of new fermented liberty,
Till the scum mantle to the top,
And leave the sun-touched liquor free.
‘Northern and Southron, part in peace,
Each to his own contentment thrive,
Since each divergent destiny
May keep a sacred good alive.’
Thus sang I, in that land of rest,
Till, drunk with Music’s golden wine,
I crossed my hands upon my breast,
And dreamed of heaven, at Raphael’s shrine.
Bathed in your icy Northern springs,
My slumbering eye is roused to sight;
The sharp steel wind doth surrender all
My silken armor of delight.
Mine ear, by mass and anthem lulled,
The trumpet’s brazen voice awakes;
From its slow pulses, keenly stirred,
My blood its natural current makes.
Things which in distance dimly showed
Press on me, in the nearer view;
I see the race that’s passing out,
Weave hateful fetters for the new.
I see a plague, long held aloof,
That to the social heart hath crept,
See, blood-hounds track the inner shrine
Where, sacred once, the outcast slept.
I see, upon the altar steps,
Base Interest trample Godlike Right.
Strike, lyre, thy chorus of brave sounds!
Find, palsied hand, thine ancient might!
Back! back, volcanic flood, that creep’st
So snakelike, through our peaceful plains;
Back, tortuous Intrigue! thou art bold
To drop thy mask where Justice reigns.
Back, baleful force! back, perjured law!
Sacred while ye the right sustain,
But fall’n like Judas, to betray
The sinless blood, for love of gain.
Judas! that gain will serve thee nought!
It will but buy a field of blood,
Whereon impartial Time shall write,
‘Here they that fought for Freedom stood.
‘These men the tie of Nature held
A claim beyond the pride of race;
Their banner bore Man’s bleeding heart
Without the color of his face.
‘Reluctantly they bared the sword,
And let the prudent scabbard go;
They perished in the name of Christ;
His enemies would have it so.’
III. THERE AND HERE.
The natural loves that move my heart,
My country, matter not to thee;
Yet let me to my words impart
That which may make them one with me.
And tell thee that, however dear
I hold the light of Roman skies;
However from the canvas clear
The soul of Raphael blessed mine eyes;
Howe’er intense the joy of flowers,
And the spring-wedded nightingale,
Or deep the charm of twilight hours
Hushed to the Miserès wail;
A holier joy to me were given,
Could I persuade they heart from wrong;
As rapturous birds drop down from heaven’
With heaven’s convincement in their song.
“Dear Nancy” by Susanna Blamire
Dear Nancy, since men have all made their own laws,
Which oppress the poor women, whatever’s the cause;
Since by hardness of reason or hardness of fist
All wrong must be right if they choose to persist;
I’d have you with caution in wedlock engage,
For if once you are caught you’re a bird in a cage,
That may for dear liberty flutter the wing
As you hop round the perch, but ’tis chance if you sing.
The man who in courtship is studious to please,
Throws off his attention and hears not nor sees;
Whilst her who before was the fairest of flowers
The cloud on his brow ever drenches with showers:
And the man whose rough manners were courteous before,
Gives you every reason to look for no more;
For such churls I’ve seen through the whole of their lives
Give nought but an oath or a frown to their wives.
Let her speech or her manners be e’er so bewitching,
Why, women should only give mouth in the kitchen
Nor e’en there rule the roast, for my lord must be by,
And a finger must always have in every pie.
Then he’d lifeless become,to such silence is prone,
That you’d think him a statue just cut out of stone;
And his fair one, I’ll wager, not all the year round
Hears aught of his voice save a hum-and-ha sound.
Now some, to advise you all evils to shun,
Bid you ever be happy by holding your tongue;
But Jack Boaster has taught me that this will not do,
For when he is railing his dear shall rail too;
And Andrew Macgrumble insists that his wife
Shall ask pardon most humbly each hour of her life:
And he’s right; for, since wedlock has made them both one,
‘Tis fit for such sin she should daily atone !
Then there’s trim little Dicky, who calls himself bless’d
In a spouse so accomplish’d, so young, and well dress’d;
Should she play with her lap-dog, ‘twould give him such pain,
He would tear down a curl, and then curl it again;
Should you travel life’s road with a mate such as these,
‘Tis a chance the whole journey you’d do aught to please.
Yet you fondly fancy that yours is a swain
Whom softness and sweetness will still keep the same;
That when years have roll’d on, though your locks be turn’d grey;
Though the rosebud is blownnay, quite faded away;
Tho’ the canker of time should love’s blossoms destroy,
Yet as Darby and Joan you may still be wish’d joy;
Then hold your good humour, for that is the charm
Which can make beauty linger, and keep the heart warm;
And, when youth, with light wings, shall for ever have flown,
Make your Darby delighted to sit by his Joan!
Short Poems About Freedom
“Freedom in Dress” by Ben Jonson
From “Epicœne; or, the Silent Woman,” Act I. Sc. 1.
Still to be neat, still to be drest,
As you were going to a feast;
Still to be powdered, still perfumed,—
Lady, it is to be presumed,
Though art’s hid causes are not found,
All is not sweet, all is not sound.
Give me a look, give me a face,
That makes simplicity a grace;
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free,—
Such sweet neglect more taketh me
Than all the adulteries of art:
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.
“The Conflict” by John Gould Fletcher
I have fled away into deserts,
I have hidden myself from you,
Lo, you always at my side!
I cannot shake myself free.
In the evening stillness
With your cold eyes you sit watching,
Longing, hungering still for me;
I will open my heart and give you
All my blood, at last.
“No Bondage For Me” by William Francis Barnard
Chains are not other than chains,
Though fashioned of gold, I cry;
Nor is liberty less than a boon,
Though I have but a cup and a crust.
Better a bed in the fields,
And a man’s heart, at dawn in the sky,
Than a luxury great as a king’s,
Where a voice ever utters “Thou must!”
“Freedom” by Olive Runner
Give me the long, straight road before me,
A clear, cold day with a nipping air,
Tall, bare trees to run on beside me,
A heart that is light and free from care.
Then let me go!—I care not whither
My feet may lead, for my spirit shall be
Free as the brook that flows to the river,
Free as the river that flows to the sea.
“Liberty” by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
A child, I set the thirsting of my mouth
To the gold chalices of loves that craze.
Surely, alas, I have found therein but drouth,
Surely has sorrow darkened o’er my days.
While worldlings chase each other madly round
Their giddy track of frivolous gayety,
Dreamer, my dream earth’s utmost longings bound:
One love alone is mine, my love is Liberty.
“Opportunity” by Raymond Garfield Dandridge
The shackles rend, your hands are free,
You need no longer humb’ly bow
Beneath the lash of tyranny;
Go shape the molten metal now.
Behold! “The Door of Hope,” ajar,
And Freedom freely beckoning;
She bids you gaze upon a star,
And veer not from your reckoning!
“Love-Free” by Sara Teasdale
I am free of love as a bird flying south in the autumn,
Swift and intent, asking no joy from another,
Glad to forget all of the passion of April
Ere it was love-free.
I am free of love, and I listen to music lightly,
But if he returned, if he should look at me deeply,
I should awake, I should awake and remember
I am my lover’s.
“A Book” by Emily Dickinson
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
“Do Not Believe” by Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy
Do not believe, my dearest, when I say
That I no longer love you.
When the tide ebbs do not believe the sea –
It will return anew.
Already I long for you, and passion fills me,
I yield my freedom thus to you once more.
Already the waves return with shouts and glee
To fill again that same belovèd shore.
“Could I But Ride Indefinite” by Emily Dickinson
Could I but ride indefinite,
As doth the meadow-bee,
And visit only where I liked,
And no man visit me,
And flirt all day with buttercups,
And marry whom I may,
And dwell a little everywhere,
Or better, run away
“The Old Stoic” by Emily Brontë
Riches I hold in light esteem,
And Love I laugh to scorn;
And lust of fame was but a dream,
That vanished with the morn:
And if I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me
Is, “Leave the heart that now I bear,
And give me liberty!”
Yes, as my swift days near their goal:
’Tis all that I implore;
In life and death a chainless soul,
With courage to endure.
“Wild Swans” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.
And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.
Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
House without air, I leave you and lock your door.
Wild swans, come over the town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying!