Swami Vivekanand: To the 4th of July

My friend Kanchan Banerjee shared this poem by Swami Vivekanand. Kanchan wrote, “In 1898 Swami Vivekananda went to Kashmir, where he stayed on a houseboat on Dal Lake. While travelling in Kashmir with some American and English disciples, Swamiji wrote this poem on 4 July 1898, as a part of a celebration of the anniversary of the United States’ independence and asked it be read aloud during that day’s breakfast.”

To the 4th of July

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!

As it happened, Swamiji passed away on July 4th, 1902. He was only 39 years old. Two other great men, both connected with the American Revolution, also passed away on July 4th, in 1826: John Adams (1735-1826), age 90; and Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), age 83. A giant of a nation was born on July 4th, and three giants passed into history on that day.

Happy 4th of July.

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