Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BRAVE, by ELIZA COOK

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THE BRAVE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: For whom are your gyves? For the cowardly one
Last Line: But never, in mercy, place chains on the brave!
Subject(s): Courage; Freedom; Presidents, United States; Wallace, Sir William (1270-1305); Washington, George (1732-1799); Valor; Bravery; Liberty

For whom are your gyves? for the cowardly one,
Who would strike in the dark, and steal back in the sun?
For the felon who never hath used his right hand
But to injure his brothers and merit the brand?
Go, fetter the traitor and dastardly spy;
Let them joylessly live and despairingly die:
THEY are guerdoned right well with the doom of the slave;
But away with your chains from the honestly brave!

Could a Wallace or Washington -- spirits divine!
Live on as the captured to languish and pine?
Should earth show a wall as the dungeon of such,
Or aught like a fetter profane with its touch?
No, no! when the destiny woven by fate
Gives power to trample and vanquish the great,
Strike, strike in pure mercy; 'twere torture to save;
Fell at once, but oh! forge not a link for the brave.

The lion may yield -- let him sink, let him bleed;
But seek not to tame him, to bind and to lead.
Launch thy barb, bring the proud eagle down from his swoop;
But a curse on the hand that would build him a coop.
Oh, give not the noble one trammels to wear,
Till the heart-strings are snapt by the pressure they bear:
Let him fall like the free -- give him death and a grave;
But never, in mercy, place chains on the brave!

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