The Lady of Shalott, and Other Poems

‘Of old sat Freedom on the heights’

Alfred Tennyson

OF OLD sat Freedom on the heights,
        The thunders breaking at her feet:
Above her shook the starry lights:
        She heard the torrents meet.

There in her place she did rejoice,
        Self-gather’d in her prophet-mind,
But fragments of her mighty voice
        Came rolling on the wind.

Then stept she down thro’ town and field
        To mingle with the human race,
And part by part to men reveal’d
        The fullness of her face—

Grave mother of majestic works,
        From her isle-altar gazing down,
Who, Godlike, grasps the triple forks,
        And, king-like, wears the crown:

Her open eyes desire the truth.
        The wisdom of a thousand years
Is in them. May perpetual youth
        Keep dry their light from tears;

That her fair form may stand and shine,
        Make bright our days and light our dreams,
Turning to scorn with lips divine
        The falsehood of extremes!

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