Ode to Freedom

Spirit of the days of old!
Ere the generous heart grew cold;
When the pulse of life was strong,
And the breath of vengeance long;
When, with jealous sense, the heart
Felt the least indignant smart;
When, alive at every pore,
Honor no injustice bore,
But, like lions on their prey,
Sprang and washed the stain away;
When the patriot's blood was shed
At the shrine where valor bled;
When the bard, with kindling song,
Roused them to avenge their wrong;
When the thought of insult, deep
In the heart, could never sleep,
But, though cherished many a day,
Still at last it burst its way,
Rolling with impetuous tide,
Till the foeman crouched or died.

Spirit of the days of yore!
When the lofty hero bore,
On his brow, and on his crest,
Signs of thought, that could not rest;
When the eager, active soul
Spurned, and broke through all control,
Nature was his only rule,
Feeling taught his only school;
When his vigorous frame was nursed,
By no arts that poison cursed;
When his heart was firm to will,
And his hand was strong to kill;
When he sternly struggled through
All that he resolved to do;
When he recked not if his path
Smiled in peace, or frowned in wrath;
When he started at the call
Country gave, and left his all,
Onward trod to front the foe,
Nerved to deal the deadly blow;
When the fight, to him, was play;
When he cared not if his way
Led to victory, or the grave, —
Either fate becomes the brave:
Days of strength gigantic! fled,
Valor sleeps, and fame is dead.

Spirit of the bold and free!
Mountain breath of liberty;
Parent of a hardy breed,
Fiery as the Arab steed;
Master of the mighty charm;
Knitter of the brawny arm,
Of the knee that cannot kneel,
Heart of oak, and nerve of steel;
Ruler of the craggy wild;
On a throne of granite piled,
Like a giant altar, thou
Biddest all who love thee bow,
Bend the neck, and fold the knee,
To no conqueror but thee;
In that hold thou bidst them wait,
Till some proud, ambitious state,
Marching in the pomp of war,
Spread its flaunting banner far,
And, with high and threatening breath,
Call to slavery, or death;
Then thou bidst them gird the brand,
Plant the foot, and raise the hand,
Draw the panting nostril wide,
And, with stern and stately stride,
Forward, like the eagle's wing,
On the proud invader spring,
And, in one resistless rush,
All his power and splendor crush.
Spirit of the great and good!
Such as, in Athenæ, stood,
Stern in justice, on the rock,
Moveless at the people's shock,
And when civil tempest raged,
And intestine war was waged,
With serene, but awful sway,
Rolled the maddening tide away:
Such as met at Pylæ's wall,
Ere that glorious Freedom's fall, —
When the life of Greece was young,
Like the sun from ocean sprung,
And the warm and lifted soul
Marching onward to its goal:
Such as at those holy gates,
Bulwark of the banded states,
With the hireling Persian strove,
In the high and ardent love
Souls that cannot stoop to shame
Bear to Freedom's sacred name:
Such as with the Saxon flew,
Ever to their country true,
From the rock, the wood, the fen,
From the cavern and the den,
Eager to the field of fight,
Like a cloud that comes by night,
Tore away, at once, the chain
Fastened by the robber Dane,
Drove him headlong from that shore,
And embalmed his host in gore;
Then secured their country's cause
With a bond of equal laws,
And bequeathed the sacred trust,
When their bones should fall in dust,
To that island race, who bear
Light, and warmth, and glory, where
Ocean's unchained billows roll
From the mid-day to the pole;
And to that more daring shoot,
Bent with flowers and promised fruit,
Who have dared, beyond the sea,
To assert their liberty,
Who, upon the forted hill,
Braved a tyrant father's will,
Down the bloody gauntlet threw,
Grasped and snapped the links in two;
And unshackled ventured forth,
Noblest of the sons of earth.

Spirit of the stirring blood,
Rolling in an even flood
Through the hale and ruddy cheek;
Scorner of the pale and weak,
Who in festering cities crawl,
Victims of a sordid thrall,
And for ever draw their breath,
Lingering on the brink of death:
But to thee the giant limb,
Strong to leap, to run, to swim,
Strong to guide the plough or brand,
Guard, or free, or till their land;
But to thee the godlike frame,
Such as puts our dwarfs to shame,
Firm, erect, and fair, as first
Adam from his Maker burst,
And exulting leaped to see
His angelic symmetry;
But to thee the eagle eye,
Lifted to its parent sky,
Drinking in the living stream,
And again, with ardent beam,
Sending all its fires abroad,
Like the language of a god;
But to thee the mighty brow,
Fixed to dare, unused to bow,
Now in placid kindness bright,
Like a rock in evening's light,
Then with anger's wrinkled frown,
Gathered eyebrows lowering down,
Awful as the storm whose fold
Round a columned Alp is rolled;
But to thee the mind of fire
Toil can never damp or tire,
Glancing, like a sunbeam, through
Nature with a spirit's view,
And from out its choicest store,
In its fulness flowing o'er,
Sending, like a bolt, the flow
Of thought upon the crowd below.

Healthful Spirit! at this hour
There are haunts where thou hast power, —
Haunts where thou shalt ever be,
As thou ever hast been, free;
Where the stream of life is led
Stainless in its virgin bed,
And its magic fire is still
Blazing on its holy hill.
There are mountains, there are storms,
Where thou feed'st thy hives and swarms,
Whence thou send'st them, to restore
Virtue, where it dwells no more;
Safe in those embattled rocks
Life its native vigor locks,
And its kindling energy
Lives, and moves, and feels in thee;
In those bulwarks is our trust,
For the boundless power is just,
Nor wilt thou from earth arise,
Linked with justice, to the skies,
But below, with mercy, dwell,
Till the world shall hear its knell.
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