The Price of Freedom by Robert Lowe

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They tell us that Freedom's a holiday dress,
Very gaudy and flaunting, they're free to confess,
But too thin for the storm, and too frail for the blast,
It is quite out of place when the sky's overcast;
And that those on whose shoulders 'tis worthy to fall,
Not to wear it to rags, will not wear it at all.

They tell us that Freedom's a suppliant that bends
To the insults of foes and the treason of friends;
They say 'tis unstatesmanlike even to dream
Of insisting on right, if the right be extreme;
And that people in power will always be lenient
To modest requests -- If they're not inconvenient.

They say that if Governors choose to be skittish,
To thwart them is Turkish, to bend to them British; ---
That Freedom's the only good under the sun,
For which nought's to be suffered, no risk to be run:
And that he who would venture his neck or his gains
For so abstract a cause, is a fool for his pains.

They tell us --- but one thing they tell us not --- where
Has a nation been freed by submission and prayer?
What tyrant was ever persuaded to break
The bonds or his slaves for humility's sake?
And by whom was e'er Freedom successfully sought,
Who shrunk from the price at which Freedom is bought?

First published in The Atlas, 4 January 1845;
and later in
Freedom on the Wallaby: Poems of the Australian People edited by Majorie Pizer, 1953; and
Poetry Australia, April 1970.

Author: Robert Lowe (1811-1892) was born in Birmingham, England, and arrived in Australia in 1842.  He had graduated from Oxford in 1829, and after landing in Sydney was immediately admitted to the bar in New South Wales.  He served as a Member of the Legislative Council during the 1840s and also helped found The Atlas magazine, which he may also have edited.  He left Australia in 1850 and returned to England where he again entered politics, serving as Home Secretary in Gladstone's first ministry.  He was elevated to the House of Lords as Viscount Sherbrooke in 1880.  He died in Surrey in 1892.

Author reference site: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 4, 2012 6:56 AM.

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