720

No Prisoner be—
Where Liberty—
Himself—abide with Thee—

by Emily Dickinson.

The hinges are so rusty
The door is fixed and fast;
The windows are so dusty
The sun looks in aghast:
Knock out the glass, I pray,
Or dash the door away,
Or break the house down bodily,
And let my soul go free!

by George MacDonald.

Comes, soon or late,
With pace unhurried, to the appointed door,
Slips in the key, draws back the bolts and bars,
And strong or steadfast, weak or passionate,
Glad or reluctant, we go forth once more,
To join the grave procession of the stars."

by Govinda Krishna Chettur.

Fragment: To A Friend Released From Prison

For me, my friend, if not that tears did tremble
In my faint eyes, and that my heart beat fast
With feelings which make rapture pain resemble,
Yet, from thy voice that falsehood starts aghast,
I thank thee--let the tyrant keep
His chains and tears, yea, let him weep
With rage to see thee freshly risen,
Like strength from slumber, from the prison,
In which he vainly hoped the soul to bind
Which on the chains must prey that fetter humankind.

by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Wearily, drearily,
Half the day long,
Flap the great banners
High over the stone;
Strangely and eerily
Sounds the wind's song,
Bending the banner-poles.

While, all alone,
Watching the loophole's spark,
Lie I, with life all dark,
Feet tether'd, hands fetter'd
Fast to the stone,
The grim walls, square-letter'd
With prison'd men's groan.

Still strain the banner-poles
Through the wind's song,
Westward the banner rolls
Over my wrong.

by William Morris.

A Good Knight In Prison

Wearily, drearily,
Half the day long,
Flap the great banners
High over the stone;
Strangely and eerily
Sounds the wind's song,
Bending the banner-poles.

While, all alone,
Watching the loophole's spark,
Lie I, with life all dark,
Feet tether'd, hands fetter'd
Fast to the stone,
The grim walls, square-letter'd
With prison'd men's groan.

Still strain the banner-poles
Through the wind's song,
Westward the banner rolls
Over my wrong.

by William Morris.

Esmeralda In Prison

[OPERA OF 'ESMERALDA,' ACT IV., 1836.]


Phoebus, is there not this side the grave,
Power to save
Those who're loving? Magic balm
That will restore to me my former calm?
Is there nothing tearful eye
Can e'er dry, or hush the sigh?
I pray Heaven day and night,
As I lay me down in fright,
To retake my life, or give
All again for which I'd live!
Phoebus, hasten from the shining sphere
To me here!
Hither hasten, bring me Death; then Love
May let our spirits rise, ever-linked, above!

by Victor Marie Hugo.

On The Jail Steps

I've won the race.
Young man, I'm new!
Old Sallow-face
Good luck to you!

I've turned about,
And paid for sin.
And you come out,
As I go in.

Ten years! but mark,
I am free, free!
Ten years of dark
Shall gather me.

My wife long-while
She wept her pain.
She cannot smile;
She weeps again.

My little one
Shall know my call.
Child is there none
For sin grows tall.

Now who are you,
Spar of hell's flood?
And who, and who,
But your own blood?

by Eleanor Agnes Lee.

If gratitude a poor man's virtue is,
'Tis one at least my sick soul can afford.
Bankrupt I am of all youth's charities,
But not of thanks. No. Thanks be to the Lord!
Praise be, dear Lady of all grace, to you.
You were my mediciner, my one sole friend,
When the world spurned me from its retinue.
And I am yours, your bond--slave to the end.
--How shall I tell it you? There was a time
When I was sordid in my unbelief,
And mocked at all things less robust than crime,
A convict in my prison--house of grief.
But that is past. Your pity was the key
Which sent me forth, a broken man, but free.

by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt.

I count the dismal time by months and years
Since last I felt the green sward under foot,
And the great breath of all things summer-
Met mine upon my lips. Now earth appears
As strange to me as dreams of distant spheres
Or thoughts of Heaven we weep at. Nature's lute
Sounds on, behind this door so closely shut,
A strange wild music to the prisoner's ears,
Dilated by the distance, till the brain
Grows dim with fancies which it feels too
While ever, with a visionary pain,
Past the precluded senses, sweep and Rhine
Streams, forests, glades, and many a golden train
Of sunlit hills transfigured to Divine.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Farewell Dark Gaol

Farewell, dark gaol. You hold some better hearts
Than in this savage world I thought to find.
I do not love you nor the fraudulent arts
By which men tutor men to ways unkind.
Your law is not my law, and yet my mind
Remains your debtor. It has learned to see
How dark a thing the earth would be and blind
But for the light of human charity.

I am your debtor thus and for the pang
Which touched and chastened, and the nights of thought
Which were my years of learning. See I hang
Your image here, a glory all unsought,
About my neck. Thus saints in symbol hold
Their tools of death and darings manifold.

by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt.

Sonnet Iii. Written On The Day That Mr. Leigh Hunt Left Prison

What though, for showing truth to flatter'd state,
Kind Hunt was shut in prison, yet has he,
In his immortal spirit, been as free
As the sky-searching lark, and as elate.
Minion of grandeur! think you he did wait?
Think you he nought but prison-walls did see,
Till, so unwilling, thou unturn'dst the key?
Ah, no! far happier, nobler was his fate!
In Spenser's halls he stray'd, and bowers fair,
Culling enchanted flowers; and he flew
With daring Milton through the fields of air:
To regions of his own his genius true
Took happy flights. Who shall his fame impair
When thou art dead, and all thy wretched crew?

by John Keats.

Written On The Day That Mr Leigh Hunt Left Prison

What though, for showing truth to flattered state,
Kind Hunt was shut in prison, yet has he,
In his immortal spirit, been as free
As the sky-searching lark, and as elate.
Minion of grandeur! think you he did wait?
Think you he nought but prison-walls did see,
Till, so unwilling, thou unturnedst the key?
Ah, no! far happier, nobler was his fate!
In Spenser's halls he strayed, and bowers fair,
Culling enchanted flowers; and he flew
With daring Milton through the fields of air:
To regions of his own his genius true
Took happy flights. Who shall his fame impair
When thou art dead, and all thy wretched crew?

by John Keats.

On Tasso In Prison (Eugène Delacroix’s Painting)

The poet in his cell, unkempt and sick,
who crushes underfoot a manuscript,
measures, with a gaze that horror has inflamed,
the stair of madness where his soul was maimed.
The intoxicating laughter that fills his prison
with the absurd and the strange, swamps his reason.
Doubt surrounds him, and ridiculous fear,
hideous and multiform, circles near.
That genius pent up in a foul sty,
those spectres, those grimaces, the cries,
whirling, in a swarm, about his hair,
that dreamer, whom his lodging’s terrors bare,
such are your emblems, Soul, singer of songs obscure,
whom Reality suffocates behind four walls!

by Charles Baudelaire.

I Was Sick And In Prison

Thou hast not left the rough-barked tree to grow
Without a mate upon the river's bank;
Nor dost Thou on one flower the rain bestow,
But many a cup the glittering drops has drank;
The bird must sing to one who sings again,
Else would her note less welcome be to hear;
Nor hast Thou bid thy word descend in vain,
But soon some answering voice shall reach my ear;
Then shall the brotherhood of peace begin,
And the new song be raised that never dies,
That shall the soul from death and darkness win,
And burst the prison where the captive lies;
And one by one new-born shall join the strain,
Till earth restores her sons to heaven again.

by Jones Very.

Sonnet 133: Beshrew That Heart That Makes My Heart To Groan

Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan
For that deep wound it gives my friend and me!
Is't not enough to torture me alone,
But slave to slavery my sweet'st friend must be?
Me from my self thy cruel eye hath taken,
And my next self thou harder hast engrossed.
Of him, myself, and thee I am forsaken—
A torment thrice threefold thus to be crossed.
Prison my heart in thy steel bosom's ward,
But then my friend's heart let my poor heart bail;
Whoe'er keeps me, let my heart be his guard,
Thou canst not then use rigour in my jail.
And yet thou wilt; for I, being pent in thee,
Perforce am thine, and all that is in me.

by William Shakespeare.

In The Prison Pen

Listless he eyes the palisades
And sentries in the glare;
'Tis barren as a pelican-beach
But his world is ended there.

Nothing to do; and vacant hands
Bring on the idiot-pain;
He tries to think- to recollect,
But the blur is on his brain.

Around him swarm the plaining ghosts
Like those on Virgil's shore-
A wilderness of faces dim,
And pale ones gashed and hoar.

A smiting sun. No shed, no tree;
He totters to his lair-
A den that sick hands dug in earth
Ere famine wasted there,

Or, dropping in his place, he swoons,
Walled in by throngs that press,
Till forth from the throngs they bear
him dead-
Dead in his meagreness.

by Meer Taqi Meer.

Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan
For that deep wound it gives my friend and me!
Is't not enough to torture me alone,
But slave to slavery my sweet'st friend must be?
Me from myself thy cruel eye hath taken,
And my next self thou harder hast engross'd:
Of him, myself, and thee, I am forsaken;
A torment thrice threefold thus to be cross'd.
Prison my heart in thy steel bosom's ward,
But then my friend's heart let my poor heart bail;
Whoe'er keeps me, let my heart be his guard;
Thou canst not then use rigor in my gaol:
And yet thou wilt; for I, being pent in thee,
Perforce am thine, and all that is in me.

by William Shakespeare.

In The Prison Pen

1864

Listless he eyes the palisades
And sentries in the glare;
'Tis barren as a pelican-beach
But his world is ended there.

Nothing to do; and vacant hands
Bring on the idiot-pain;
He tries to think--to recollect,
But the blur is on his brain.

Around him swarm the plaining ghosts
Like those on Virgil's shore--
A wilderness of faces dim,
And pale ones gashed and hoar.

A smiting sun. No shed, no tree;
He totters to his lair--
A den that sick hands dug in earth
Ere famine wasted there,

Or, dropping in his place, he swoons,
Walled in by throngs that press,
Till forth from the throngs they bear
him dead--
Dead in his meagreness.

by Herman Melville.

Comme les hauts piliers des vieilles cathédrales,
Ô rêves de mon coeur, vous montez ! Et je vois
L'ancien encens encore endormir ses spirales
A l'ombre de vos nefs, ô rêves d'autrefois !

Comme un orgue dompté par des mains magistrales,
Ô ma longue douleur ! Je t'écoute ; et ta voix
Murmure encor l'écho des plaintes et des râles
Que j'ai depuis longtemps étouffés sous mes doigts !

- Allons ! Prêtre enfermé qui saignas sous l'insulte,
N'as-tu pas renié ton église et ton culte,
Et brisé l'encensoir aux murs de ta prison ?

Debout ! étends les bras sans fermer les paupières !
Qu'ils croulent, ces arceaux dont tu sculptas les pierres,
Dût leur poids t'écraser du coup, comme Samson !

by Léon Dierx.

Mu'Tamid's Lament In Prison

In my breast,
A wail of grief,
Without any spark or flash,
Alone survives,
Passionless, ineffectual.
A free man is in prison today,
Without a spear or a sword;
Regret overwhelms me
And also my strategy.
My heart
Is drawn by instinct to chains.
Perhaps my sword was of the same steel.
Once I had a two-edged sword-
It turned into the chains that shackle me now.
How whimsical and indifferent
Is the Author of fates.

[Translated by Mustansir Mir]

Note: Mu‘tamid was the king of Seville and an
Arabic poet. He was defeated and
imprisoned by a ruler of Spain. Mu‘tamid's
poems have been translated into English
and published in the Wisdom of the East
series.

by Allama Muhammad Iqbal.

To Thomas Moore : Written The Evening Before His Visit To Mr. Leigh Hunt In Horsemonger Lane Gaol, May 19, 1813

Oh you, who in all names can tickle the town,
Anacreon, Tom Little, Tom Moore, or Tom Brown,
For hang me if I know of which you may most brag,
Your Quarto two-pounds, or your Two­penny Post Bag;

But now to my letter-to yours 'tis an answer--
To-morrow be with me, as soon as you can, sir,
All ready and dress'd for proceeding to spunge on
(According to compact) the wit in the dungeon--
Pray Phobus at length our political ma­lice
May not get us lodgings within the same palace!
I suppose that to-night you're engaged with some codgers,
And for Sotheby's Blues have deserted Sam Rogers;
And I, though with cold I have nearly my death got,
Must put on my breeches, and wait on the Heathcote;
But to-morrow, at four, we will both play the Scurra,
And you'll be Catullus, the Regent Mamurra.

by George Gordon Byron.

`Prisoner, tell me, who was it that bound you?'

`It was my master,' said the prisoner.
`I thought I could outdo everybody in the world in wealth and power,
and I amassed in my own treasure-house the money due to my king.
When sleep overcame me I lay upon the bed that was for my lord,
and on waking up I found I was a prisoner in my own treasure-house.'

`Prisoner, tell me, who was it that wrought this unbreakable chain?'

`It was I,' said the prisoner, `who forged this chain very carefully.
I thought my invincible power would hold the world captive
leaving me in a freedom undisturbed.
Thus night and day I worked at the chain
with huge fires and cruel hard strokes.
When at last the work was done
and the links were complete and unbreakable,
I found that it held me in its grip.'

by Rabindranath Tagore.

Dead- A Prisoner

He died the loneliest death of all,
Amid his foes he died.
But Someone's leaped the outer wall
And Someone's come inside,
And he has gotten a golden key
To set the lonesome prisoner free.


It was not Peter with the keys,
The heavenly janitor,
Who has passed them like a rushing breeze,
The gaolers at the door,
And to His bosom as a bed
Has taken the unmothered head.


A great light in the prison shone
That made the people blind:
Rise up, rise up, new-ransomed one,
And taste the sun and wind:
For I have gotten a golden key
To set all lonesome prisoners free.


Yea they shall soar, shall spring aloft;
Their gyves shall not be rough,
But just the links of love, so soft
That they shall not cast off.
Rise up, my dear, and come away.'
And they went out to the great day.

by Katharine Tynan.

On A Political Prisoner

SHE that but little patience knew,
From childhood on, had now so much
A grey gull lost its fear and flew
Down to her cell and there alit,
And there endured her fingers' touch
And from her fingers ate its bit.
Did she in touching that lone wing
Recall the years before her mind
Became a bitter, an abstract thing,
Her thought some popular enmity:
Blind and leader of the blind
Drinking the foul ditch where they lie?
When long ago I saw her ride
Under Ben Bulben to the meet,
The beauty of her country-side
With all youth's lonely wildness stirred,
She seemed to have grown clean and sweet
Like any rock-bred, sea-borne bird:
Sea-borne, or balanced on the air
When first it sprang out of the nest
Upon some lofty rock to stare
Upon the cloudy canopy,
While under its storm-beaten breast
Cried out the hollows of the sea.

by William Butler Yeats.

Song Of Myself, XXXVII

You laggards there on guard! look to your arms!
In at the conquer'd doors they crowd! I am possess'd!
Embody all presences outlaw'd or suffering,
See myself in prison shaped like another man,
And feel the dull unintermitted pain.

For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep watch,
It is I let out in the morning and barr'd at night.

Not a mutineer walks handcuff'd to jail but I am handcuff'd to him and walk by his side,
(I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one with sweat on my twitching lips.)

Not a youngster is taken for larceny but I go up too, and am tried and sentenced.

Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also lie at the last gasp,
My face is ash-color'd, my sinews gnarl, away from me people retreat.

Askers embody themselves in me and I am embodied in them,
I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg.

by Walt Whitman.

Friends Of Mine, They Are Fine Fellows

Friends of mine, they are fine fellows,
Good men who keep their word and promise,
When they saw that I was jailed
Each strove to come there and replace me.

A true friend in this world is one
Who gives you love and will support you,
When he sees you locked in prison
He will share the heavy burden.

A friend is one I know on earth
Who when he sees that you're in trouble,
If he cannot save you from it,
He will drown, too, in the ocean.

Not like this are other fellows
Who your stewed prunes seize and gobble,
Turn, Nezim, now, look away
And do not long for their affection.

God in heaven, God of mercy!
Better there's no interjection,
Tribulation in this world will
Rob you of your peace and quiet.

Let me be as fate will have it,
I'll not groan in lamentation,
My one hope on earth is that I'll
Not on others be dependent.

by Nezim Frakulla.

The Prisoner To A Robin Who Came To His Window

Welcome! welcome! little stranger,
Welcome to my lone retreat,
Here, secure from every danger,
Hop about, and chirp, and eat.
Robin! how I envy thee,
Happy child of liberty.

Hunger never shall distress thee,
While my meals one crumb afford,
Colds and cramps shall ne'er oppress thee,
Come and share my humble board:
Robin, come and live with me,
Live, yet still at liberty.

Soon shall spring, with smiles and blushes,
Steal upon the blooming year;
Then, amid the verdant bushes,
Thy sweet song shall warble clear;
Then shall I too, joined with thee,
Taste the sweets of liberty.

Should some rough, unfeeling Dobbin,
In this iron-hearted age,
Seize thee on thy nest, my robin,
And confine thee in a cage;
Then, poor robin, think of me,
Think - and sigh for liberty.

Liberty! thou brightest treasure
In the crown of earthly joys,
Source of gladness, soul of pleasure,
All delights besides are toys:
None but prisoners like me
Know the worth of liberty.

by James Montgomery.

All day I lie beneath the great pine tree,
Whose perfumed branches wave and shadow me.
I hear the groaning of its straining heart
As in the breeze its thin leaves meet and part
Like frantic fingers loosened and entwined;
I hear it whisper to the sighing wind,
'What of the mountain peaks, where I was born?'
As sharp tears drop I feel its falling thorn.
I see in the far clouds the wild geese fly,
Homeward once more, free, in the storm-swept sky.
Back to the land they loved, all, all, have gone,
How swift the flight by joy and hope led on.
'What of the mountain land where I was born?'
I cry, they pass, glad in the dawning morn,

Home to the moon-pale lake, the heath-clad hill,
And give no thought for one imprisoned still.
All day I lie beneath the sad pine tree,
Whose groaning branches wave and shadow me,
Chained to the earth, the dark clay of the grave,
In helpless fashion feel its wild heart rave.
'Free, set free,' I hear its moaning breath,
Where liberty means naught, alas, but death.
Ah, freedom is but death.

by Dora Sigerson Shorter.

The Soul's Farewell to the Body

So we must part forever; and although
I long have beat my wings and cried to go,
Free from your narrow limiting control,
Forth into space, the true home of the soul,

Yet now, yet now that hour is drawing near,
I pause reluctant, finding you so dear.
All joys await me in the realm of God-
Must you, my comrade, moulder in the sod?

I was your captive, yet you were my slave;
Your prisoner, yet obedience you gave
To all my earnest wishes and commands.
Now to the worm I leave those willing hands

That toiled for me or held the books I read,
Those feet that trod where'er I wished to tread,
Those arms that clasped my dear ones, and the breast
On which one loved and loving heart found rest,

Those lips which my prayers to God have risen,
Those eyes that were the windows to my prison.
From these, all these, Death's Angel bids me sever;
Dear Comrade Body, fare thee well forever!

I go to my inheritance, and go
With joy that only the freed soul can know;
Yet in my spirit wanderings I trust
I may sometimes pause near your sacred dust.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Air -- "The Soldier's Orphan Boy"


Down south the Libby prison stood,
The rebel's filthy den;
Rebs in battle prisoners took --
Of course our union men.
And our brave boys, hearty and hale,
To prison had to go,
And few have lived to tell the tale
Of misery and woe.

This prison was a horrid place,
Many brave boys died there,
In rags and filth and wretchedness,
They died for want of care.
Many a brave and noble man,
As he lay sick and sore,
Was thinking of his friends and home
He never would see more.

Fathers, brothers, young husbands dear
Went through that prison door --
Some lived to return home, we hear,
And others are no more.
Many a noble soldier died
In Libby prison cell,
And comrades perish'd side by side,
As many a man can tell.

No loving hand was near a couch
To bathe an aching head --
No loving friend to watch the hours,
Or soothe their dying bed;
No friend to wipe the fallen tears
From off the dewy face --
No loving kindred was there near
To mark their resting place.

by Julia Ann Moore.

The Bird's Complaint

I am constantly reminded of the bygone times
Those garden's springs, those chorus of chimes

Gone are the freedoms of our own nests
Where we could come and go at our own pleasure

My heart aches the moment I think
Of the buds' smile at the dew's tears

That beautiful figure, that Kamini's form
Which source of happiness in my nest did form

I do not hear those lovely sounds in my cage now
May it happen that my freedom be in my own hands now!

How unfortunate I am, tantalized for my abode I am
My companions are in the home‐land, in the prison I am

Spring has arrived, the flower buds are laughing
On my misfortune in this dark house I am wailing

God, To whom should I relate my tale of woe?
I fear lest I die in this cage with this woe (grief) !

Since separation from the garden the condition of my heart is such
My heart is waxing the grief, my grief is waxing the heart


O Listeners, considering this music do not be happy
This call is the wailing of my wounded heart

O the one who confined me make me free
A silent prisoner I am, earn my blessings free

by Allama Muhammad Iqbal.

To Althea From Prison.

I.
When love with unconfined wings
Hovers within my gates;
And my divine ALTHEA brings
To whisper at the grates;
When I lye tangled in her haire,
And fetterd to her eye,
The birds, that wanton in the aire,
Know no such liberty.

II.
When flowing cups run swiftly round
With no allaying THAMES,
Our carelesse heads with roses bound,
Our hearts with loyal flames;
When thirsty griefe in wine we steepe,
When healths and draughts go free,
Fishes, that tipple in the deepe,
Know no such libertie.

III.
When (like committed linnets) I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetnes, mercy, majesty,
And glories of my King.
When I shall voyce aloud, how good
He is, how great should be,
Inlarged winds, that curle the flood,
Know no such liberty.

IV.
Stone walls doe not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Mindes innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedome in my love,
And in my soule am free,
Angels alone that sore above
Enjoy such liberty.

by Richard Lovelace.

A Prison Gets To Be A Friend

652

A Prison gets to be a friend—
Between its Ponderous face
And Ours—a Kinsmanship express—
And in its narrow Eyes—

We come to look with gratitude
For the appointed Beam
It deal us—stated as our food—
And hungered for—the same—

We learn to know the Planks—
That answer to Our feet—
So miserable a sound—at first—
Nor ever now—so sweet—

As plashing in the Pools—
When Memory was a Boy—
But a Demurer Circuit—
A Geometric Joy—

The Posture of the Key
That interrupt the Day
To Our Endeavor—Not so real
The Check of Liberty—

As this Phantasm Steel—
Whose features—Day and Night—
Are present to us—as Our Own—
And as escapeless—quite—

The narrow Round—the Stint—
The slow exchange of Hope—
For something passiver—Content
Too steep for lookinp up—

The Liberty we knew
Avoided—like a Dream—
Too wide for any Night but Heaven—
If That—indeed—redeem—

by Emily Dickinson.

OUR prison house extends so wide
It walls the farthest Oceans’ tide,
Enarches every Tropics bloom,
And gives the opposing Arctics room.

Its vistas do all stars include

In one abysm of solitude,
Whose hollow antres swoon where Thought
In vain imagines Aught or Naught.

At time, to ease the jail, we deem
Ourselves companioned in the dream,

Conceiving kindred Spirits share
The doom each soul alone must bear.

They seem to move and smile and moan
With sense of all the heart hath known,
Which helps the pent-up soul beguile

The tension of its domicile;

Till, doubtful of the fancied zest
It made to soothe its deep unrest,
Once more the solitary thrall
Ponders the illimitable Wall.

“Perchance another Thought supreme
Includes the Dreamer and the Dream?
Or doth the soundless Prison zone
Confine One absolutely lone?”

’T is only when Love’s angel eyes

Gaze steadfast from a mortal guise,
Tranquil, sincere, divine, devout,
They still the tumult of the Doubt.

Then, prisoning Power, we do accept
The Mystery that Thou hast kept,

And cheerful in Thy bondage dwell,
Blest creatures of Thy miracle.

by Edward William Thomson.

The time approaches for me to part!
Now winter’s voice is compelling;
A bird of passage, I know my heart
In other climes has its dwelling.

I have long known that I cannot stay;
Though this is no cause for grieving,
So free from care as I wend my way
I sing at times before leaving.

I should at times have perhaps sung more –
Or should perhaps have sung better;
But dark days crowded oft to the fore,
And gales my feathers did scatter.

In God’s fair world I would fain have tried
To spread my wings out in freedom;
But I’m imprisoned on every side
And can’t escape from my thralldom.

From lofty skies would I fain have tried
To blithely sing and not fretted;
But for my shelter and food must bide
A jailbird poor and indebted.

At times I make the consoling choice
To let my gaze outward wander:
And sometimes send my poor mournful voice
Through prison bars yearning yonder.

Then listen, traveller, to this song;
To pass this way please endeavour!
It might, God knows, not last very long
Before this voice fades for ever.

This coming evening, I can foretell,
May see my prison bars breaking;
For I will sing now a fond farewell,
Perhaps my final leave-taking.

by Steen Steensen Blicher.

A Guiltlesse Lady Imprisoned: After Penanced. Song

I.
Heark, faire one, how what e're here is
Doth laugh and sing at thy distresse;
Not out of hate to thy reliefe,
But joy t' enjoy thee, though in griefe.

II.
See! that which chaynes you, you chaine here;
The prison is thy prisoner;
How much thy jaylor's keeper art!
He bindes your hands, but you his heart.

III.
The gyves to rase so smooth a skin,
Are so unto themselves within;
But, blest to kisse so fayre an arme,
Haste to be happy with that harme;

IV.
And play about thy wanton wrist,
As if in them thou so wert drest;
But if too rough, too hard they presse,
Oh, they but closely, closely kisse.

V.
And as thy bare feet blesse the way,
The people doe not mock, but pray,
And call thee, as amas'd they run
Instead of prostitute, a nun.

VI.
The merry torch burnes with desire
To kindle the eternall fire,
And lightly daunces in thine eyes
To tunes of epithalamies.

VII.
The sheet's ty'd ever to thy wast,
How thankfull to be so imbrac't!
And see! thy very very bonds
Are bound to thee, to binde such hands.

by Richard Lovelace.

In vain I hide my heart's fierce pain

In vain I hide my heart's fierce pain,
In vain pretend to inner calm.
I can't be calm a single hour,
I can't no matter how I try.
My heart by sighs, my eyes by tears,
reveal the secret misery.
You make all my efforts vain,
you, who stole my liberty!

Bringing a savage fate to me,
you troubled my spirit's peace,
you changed my freedom to a jail,
you turned my delight to sorrow.
And secretly, to my bitterest hurt,
perhaps you sigh for some other woman,
perhaps devoured by a useless passion,
as I for you, you suffer too for her.

I long to see you: when I do I'm mad,
anxious, lest my eyes give me away:
I'm troubled in your presence, in your absence
I'm sad that you can't know how I love.
Shame tries to drive desire from my heart
while love in turn tries to drive out shame.
And in this fierce conflict thought is clouded,
the heart is torn, it suffers, and it burns.

So I fling myself from torment to torment.
I want to show my heart, ashamed to do it,
I don't know what I want, oh, that's true,
what I do know is I'm filled with sorrow.
I know my mind's held prisoner by you,
wherever I am it conjures your dear image:
I know, consumed by the cruellest passion,
there's no way to forget you on this earth.

by Alexander Sumarokov.

Peter Released From Prison

Fervent persevering prayers
Are faith's assured resource,
Brazen gates, and iron bars,
In vain withstand their force:
Peter when in prison cast,
Though by soldiers kept with care;
Though the doors were bolted fast,
Was soon released by prayer.

While he slept an angel came
And spread a light around;
Touched, and called him by his name,
And raised him from the ground:
All his chains and fetters burst,
Every door wide open flew;
Peter thought he dreamed, at first,
But found the vision true.

Thus the Lord can make a way
To bring his saints relief;
'Tis their part, to wait and pray,
In spite of unbelief:
He can break through walls of stone,
Sink the mountain to a plain;
They, to whom his name is known;
Can never pray in vain.

Thus in chains of guilt and sin,
Poor sinners sleeping lie;
No alarm is felt within,
Although condemned to die:
Till descending from above
Mercy smiling in his eyes
Jesus, with a voice of love,
Awakes, and bids them rise.

Glad the summons they obey,
And liberty desire;
Strait their fetters melt away,
Like wax before the fire:
By the word of him who died,
Guilty pris'ners to release;
Every door flies open wide,
And they depart in peace.

by John Newton.

SHAKERAGS, cripples, gaunt and dazed,
Prison-broken hosts on hosts,
Torture-scarred and dungeon-crazed,
Down the convict road they pour,
More and more and myriads more,
Terrible as ghosts.
Shuffling feet that miss the chain,
Shoulders welted, faces hoar,
Sightless eyes that stare in vain,
Writhen limbs and idiot tongue—
They are old who were so young
When they passed before.
Grimy from the mines, a stain
And a horror on the white
Sweep of the Siberian plain,
These, grotesque and piteous, these
Fill the earth with jubilees,
Flood the skies with light.
While each squalid tatter spins
At the sport of wind and snow,
Russia hails her paladins,
And with cheer or sob proclaims
Long unspoken hero names,
Names they hardly know.
They unto themselves are vague,
Even as they tear the bread
That their famished fingers beg;
They themselves are specters, who
Melt into their retinue
Of unnumbered dead.
From the shackles, from the whips,
Over frozen steppes they stream,
Quavering songs on ghastly lips,
Haggard, holy caravan,
Saviours of the soul of man,
Martyrs of a dream;
Martyrs of a dream fulfilled,
Givers who have paid the price,
Homing now to hearths long chilled,
Guests exalted over all
At glad Freedom's festival,
Saints of sacrifice.

by Katharine Lee Bates.