A poem by William Cullen Bryant

When freedom, from the land of Spain,
By Spain's degenerate sons was driven,
Who gave their willing limbs again
To wear the chain so lately riven;
Romero broke the sword he wore,
"Go, faithful brand," the warrior said,
"Go, undishonoured, never more
The blood of man shall make thee red:
I grieve for that already shed;
And I am sick at heart to know,
That faithful friend and noble foe
Have only bled to make more strong
The yoke that Spain has worn so long.
Wear it who will, in abject fear,
I wear it not who have been free;
The perjured Ferdinand shall hear
No oath of loyalty from me."
Then, hunted by the hounds of power,
Romero chose a safe retreat,
Where bleak Nevada's summits tower
Above the beauty at their feet.
There once, when on his cabin lay
The crimson light of setting day,
When even on the mountain's breast
The chainless winds were all at rest,
And he could hear the river's flow
From the calm paradise below;
Warmed with his former fires again,
He framed this rude but solemn strain:


"Here will I make my home, for here at least I see,
Upon this wild Sierra's side, the steps of Liberty;
Where the locust chirps unscared beneath the unpruned lime,
And the merry bee doth hide from man the spoil of the mountain thyme;
Where the pure winds come and go, and the wild vine gads at will,
An outcast from the haunts of men, she dwells with Nature still.


"I see the valleys, Spain! where thy mighty rivers run,
And the hills that lift thy harvests and vineyards to the sun,
And the flocks that drink thy brooks and sprinkle all the green,
Where lie thy plains, with sheep-walks seamed, and olive-shades between:
I see thy fig-trees bask, with the fair pomegranate near,
And the fragrance of thy lemon-groves can almost reach me here.


"Fair, fair, but fallen Spain! 'tis with a swelling heart,
That I think on all thou mightst have been, and look at what thou art;
But the strife is over now, and all the good and brave,
That would have raised thee up, are gone, to exile or the grave.
Thy fleeces are for monks, thy grapes for the convent feast,
And the wealth of all thy harvest-fields for the pampered lord and priest.


"But I shall see the day, it will come before I die,
I shall see it in my silver hairs, and with an age-dimmed eye;
When the spirit of the land to liberty shall bound,
As yonder fountain leaps away from the darkness of the ground:
And to my mountain cell, the voices of the free
Shall rise, as from the beaten shore the thunders of the sea."

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