Robert Lowe

(1811-1892 / England)

The Price Of Freedom


They tell us that freedom’s a holiday dress,
Very gaudy and flaunting they’re free to confess,
But, too thin for the storm and too frail for the blast,
It is quite out of place when the sky’s overcast;
And that those on whose shoulders ’tis worthy to fall,
Not to wear it to rags, will not wear it all.

They tell us that freedom’s a suppliant that bends
To the insults of foes and the treason of friends;
They say ’tis unstatesmanlike even to dream
Of insisting on right if the right be extreme;
And that people in power will always be lenient
To modest requests—if they’re not inconvenient.

They say that if governors choose to be skittish,
To thwart them is Turkish, to bend them British;
That freedom’s the only good under the sun,
For which nought’s to be suffered, no risk to be run;
And that he who would venture his neck or his gains
For so abstract a cause, is a fool for his pains.

They tell us—but one thing they tell us not—where
Has a nation been freed by submission and prayer?
What tyrant was ever persuaded to break
The bonds of his slaves for humility’s sake?
And by whom was e’er freedom successfully sought
Who shrank from the price at which freedom is bought?

Submitted: Tuesday, October 05, 2010

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