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Freedom (Poem)

He knows the joys of Seraphim,
Who strives mankind to bless;
None can a prison make for him
Who worketh righteousness.
A gloomy prison cell may be
Aglow with light divine;
The light of love and purity
Doth light of day outshine.
If man but have a conscience pure,
And a contented mind,
A soul which naught from right can lure,
A love for all mankind,—
Whate’er his state, ’tis well with him,
Peace like a river flows;
Naught can his Heavenly vision dim,
God does his life inclose.
Thus Christ upon His Cross did know
A blessedness unknown
By Herod with his pompous show,
His scepter and his throne.
And wretched Nero never knew
The blessedness of Paul,
When chained hand and foot, God’s dew
Of peace did on him fall.
Men cannot bind a Christ or Paul,
Free, free as air is he;
Though men his body hold in thrall,
He still knows liberty.
Ay, God-like lives of men of yore
Teach, each alone can seal
Securely his own prison door
With bonds more strong than steel.
None but one’s self his soul can bind
In cruel bonds of sin;
’Tis not the sin without we find
That binds, but sin within.
And so ’tis I, and only I
My enemy can be;
If fettered now my soul do lie,
It fettered was by me.
He who himself cannot control,
Truly a slave is he!
And who has fetters on his soul,
How can that man be free?
Thus man may walk abroad by day
When all is bright and fair,
Himself imprisoned in his clay,
And bound securely there.
Who can thy soul in fetters bind?
Who but thyself alone?
Show thou the God-like heart and mind;
Reign king on thy heart’s throne.
Thy domains, virtue, purity,—
And these mean peace and love,—
And holy thoughts uplifting thee
Earth’s sordid things above.
Thou then in all vicissitudes
Of life wilt be secure;
Brief is this life—it but preludes
Life that doth aye endure.

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