Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
II. Freedom
James Sheridan Knowles (1784–1862)
From “William Tell”

  ONCE Switzerland was free! With what a pride
I used to walk these hills,—look up to heaven,
And bless God that it was so! It was free
From end to end, from cliff to lake ’t was free!
Free as our torrents are, that leap our rocks,        5
And plough our valleys, without asking leave;
Or as our peaks, that wear their caps of snow
In very presence of the regal sun!
How happy was I in it then! I loved
Its very storms. Ay, often have I sat        10
In my boat at night, when, midway o’er the lake,
The stars went out, and down the mountain gorge
The wind came roaring,—I have sat and eyed
The thunder breaking from his cloud, and smiled
To see him shake his lightnings o’er my head,        15
And think—I had no master save his own!

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