Verse > Anthologies > Higginson and Bigelow, eds. > American Sonnets
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Higginson and Bigelow, comps.  American Sonnets.  1891.
 
William Tell
By William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)
 
CHAINS may subdue the feeble spirit, but thee,
  Tell, of the iron heart! they could not tame!
  For thou wert of the mountains; they proclaim
The everlasting creed of liberty.
That creed is written on the untrampled snow,        5
  Thundered by torrents which no power can hold,
  Save that of God, when He sends forth His cold,
And breathed by winds that through the free heaven blow.
Thou, while thy prison-walls were dark around,
  Didst meditate the lesson Nature taught,        10
  And to thy brief captivity was brought
A vision of thy Switzerland unbound.
  The bitter cup they mingled, strengthened thee
  For the great work to set thy country free.
 
 
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