Are Ye Truly Free?

Men! whose boast it is that ye
Come of fathers brave and free;
If there breathe on earth a slave,
Are ye truly free and brave?
Are ye not base slaves indeed,
Men unworthy to be freed,
If ye do not feel the chain,
When it works a brother's pain?

Women! who shall one day bear
Sons to breathe God's bounteous air,
If ye hear without a blush,
Deeds to make the roused blood rush
Like red lava through your veins,
For your sisters now in chains;
Answer! are ye fit to be
Mothers of the brave and free?

Is true freedom but to break
Fetters for our own dear sake,
And, with leathern hearts forget
That we owe mankind a debt?
No! true freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear,
And with hand and heart to be
Earnest to make others free.

They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves, who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than, in silence, shrink
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves, who dare not be
In the right with two or three.

by James Russell Lowell

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