To the Fourth of July

On the 4th of July, 1898, Swa­mi Vivek­a­nanda was trav­el­ling with some Amer­i­can dis­ci­ples in Kash­mir, and as part of a domes­tic con­spir­a­cy for the cel­e­bra­tion of the day—the anniver­sary of the Amer­i­can Dec­la­ra­tion of Independence—he pre­pared the fol­low­ing poem, to be read aloud at the ear­ly break­fast.

Behold, the dark clouds melt away,
That gath­ered thick at night, and hung
So like a gloomy pall above the earth!
Before thy mag­ic touch, the world
Awakes. The birds in cho­rus sing.
The flow­ers raise their star-like crowns—
Dew-set, and wave thee wel­come fair.
The lakes are open­ing wide in love
Their hun­dred thou­sand lotus-eyes
To wel­come thee, with all their depth.
All hail to thee, thou Lord of Light!
A wel­come new to thee, today,
O Sun! Today thou shed­dest Lib­er­ty!

Bethink thee how the world did wait,
And search for thee, through time and clime.
Some gave up home and love of friends,
And went in quest of thee, self-ban­ished,
Through drea­ry oceans, through primeval forests,
Each step a strug­gle for their life or death;
Then came the day when work bore fruit,
And wor­ship, love, and sac­ri­fice,
Ful­filled, accept­ed, and com­plete.
Then thou, pro­pi­tious, rose to shed
The light of Free­dom on mankind.

Move on, O Lord, in thy resist­less path!
Till thy high noon o’erspreads the world.
Till every land reflects thy light,
Till men and women, with uplift­ed head,
Behold their shack­les bro­ken, and
Know, in spring­ing joy, their life renewed!