I'm all smiles in this photo at the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia, but inside, I'm a sentimental, weepy mess.
First it was running my fingers over the replica of the bell's inscription: “Proclaim Liberty thro’ all the Land to all the inhabitants thereof. Levit. XXV 10” . . .
Photo Credit: Peter West, National Science Foundation
Then it was hearing lines from the HBO John Adams mini-series in my head . . .
. . . and reading about the Abolitionists and the Civil Rights Movement's long fight to include "all inhabitants" in that proclamation of Liberty . . .
. . . and thinking of my gender's shockingly recent battle for the vote. (Several of the suffrage movement's pioneers used the symbol of the Liberty Bell in their struggle and were imprisoned just miles from where I live now.)
Or maybe it was having my husband beside me after spending 58 weeks in Afghanistan, a nation in dire need of Liberty.
Whatever it was, as I approached the cracked and silent bell itself, this sonnet thrummed me over the head and finished me off. It says what my visit confirms: once you ring out a call to Liberty, you can't take back the echoes. Group after group has heard it, and rallied to it, and fought to make its promise of Liberty real.
The Liberty Bell
by H. R. H. Moore
by H. R. H. Moore
Ring loud that hallowed Bell!
Ring it long, ring it long;
Through the wide world let it tell
That Freedom's strong:
That the whole world shall be free —
The mighty crowd, the mighty crowd —
That the proud shall bend the knee,
The haughty proud.
Ring, ring the mighty Bell,
In the storm, in the storm!
Brothers! It shall herald well
Fair Freedom's form.
Ring it Southward, till its voice
For slavery toll, for slavery toll;
And Freedom's wakening touch rejoice
Both limb and soul.
Ring it o'er the negro's grave!
Ring it deep, ring it deep;
Its tones are sacred to the slave,
In Freedom's sleep.
Ring it, till its startling tones
Thrill young and old, young and old;
Till despots tremble on their thrones,
And their blood run cold.
Ring it, till the slave be free,
Wherever chained, wherever chained;
Till Universal Liberty
For aye be gained.
Ring it, till the young arise
To Freedom's fight, to Freedom's fight;
Spring gladly toward the kindling skies,
All clothed in light.
Ring it, till the bonds of sect
Be torn away, be torn away;
Till every man, as God's elect,
Kneel down to pray.
Ring it, till the world have heard,
And felt, at length, and felt, at length;
Till every living soul be stirred,
And clothed with strength.
Poetry Friday is hosted today by author Susan Taylor Brown at SusanWrites