Sunday, September 21, 2014

No Chains Can Bind It, and No Cell Enclose

Freedom of the Mind
by William Lloyd Garrison


High walls and huge the Body may confine,
And iron grates obstruct the prisoner's gaze,
And massive bolts may baffle his design,
And vigilant keepers watch his devious ways:
Yet scorns th' immortal Mind this base control!
No chains can bind it, and no cell enclose:
Swifter than light, it flies from pole to pole,
And, in a flash, from earth to heaven it goes!
It leaps from mount to mount — from vale to vale
It wanders, plucking honeyed fruits and flowers;
It visits home, to hear the fireside tale,
Or in sweet converse pass the joyous hours.
'Tis up before the sun, roaming afar,
And, in its watches, wearies every star!

Baltimore Jail, May, 1830.

The reason Garrison was in jail was that he accused a shipowner, Francis Todd, of engaging in the domestic slave trade and of being brutal to slaves; Todd sued him for libel and won. Garrison was fined but, as he could not pay the fine, he was jailed until he could pay. After seven weeks his fine was paid by his fellow abolitionist, Arthur Tappan.

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