Is There Any Easy Road To Freedom?


A relentless man loved France
Long before she came to shame
And the eating of bitter dust,
Loving her as mother and torch,
As bone of his kith and kin
And he spoke passion, warning:
"Rest is not a word of free people--
rest is a monarchical word."


A relentless Russian loved Russia
Long before she came to bare agony
And valor amid rivers of blood,
Loving her as mother and torch,
As bone of his kith and kin:
He remembered an old Swedish saying:
"The fireborn are at home in fire."

A Kentucky-born Illinoisian found himself
By journey through shadows and prayer
The Chief Magistrate of the American people
Pleading in words close to low whispers:
"Fellow citizens . . . we cannot escape history.
The fiery trial through which we pass
Will light us down in honor or dishonor
To the latest generation . . .
We shall nobly save or meanly lose
          the last best hope of earth."

Four little words came worth studying over:
    "We must disenthrall ourselves."
And what is a thrall? And who are thralls?
Men tied down or men doped, or men drowsy?
     He hoped to see them
     shake themselves loose
     and so be disenthralled.

There are freedom shouters.
There are freedom whisperers.
Both may serve.
Have I, have you, been too silent?
Is there an easy crime of silence?
Is there any easy road to freedom?


- Carl Sandburg

[December, 1941]