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Liberty

If skies were ever-blue each lustrous day,
If moons were in bold bloom each raven night,
If life was never fouled by disarray
And all beneath the Milky Way was right,
__Would we require a tempest’s ire unfurled
__To understand the wonder of our world?

Do we know the worth of being free,
Or will we only comprehend and care
When thieves have seized our key to liberty
And left us gagged and locked down in despair?
__Must we lose all hope and every choice
__To prize the awesome power of a voice?

Our greatest generations spilled their blood.
They battled in the fearsome face of death.
They witnessed freedom trodden in the mud
And fought for it. Some gave their very breath
__For liberty, a blessing almost lost—
__Let’s learn its worth before we pay the cost.

Let’s learn its worth before it’s dead and gone—
Crushed beneath the heel of history’s boot.
Let’s keep our hard-won rights and pass them on,
Every glorious, golden attribute—
__A legacy of liberty, no less…
__The God-sent gift that leads to happiness.

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Susan Jarvis Bryant has poetry published on Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Light, Sparks of Calliope, and Expansive Poetry Online. She also has poetry published in TRINACRIA, Beth Houston’s Extreme Formal Poems anthology, and in Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets in the UK). Susan is the winner of the 2020 International SCP Poetry Competition, and has been nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize.


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27 Responses

  1. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, your poem speaks to us all over here as well. We have spent many days on the beaches of Normandy where your countrymen paid such a price, particularly the bloodbath of Omaha beach. Our freedoms and liberties must never be diluted and this poem should be on the lips of all US children today. A superb read.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff… “Lest we forget…” – you are spot on with your observation, “Our freedoms and liberties must never be diluted…” and we should be passing the knowledge of the price our forefathers and a host of young men and women today have had to pay for them. The sad thing is, many (including the education system) are not… let’s hope there are still a fair number of us out there who value our gift of freedom enough to honor it with days like today. Thank you very much, Jeff.

      Reply
  2. Russel Winick

    Susan – your poem beautifully captures the threats that we are now facing.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your support, Russel. It’s always good to hear from you.

      Reply
  3. Brian Yapko

    I love this poem, Susan, which speaks eloquently and from the heart. The blood spilled by our greatest generations must be honored and let it not be forgotten that the fight for freedom never ceases. Every generation has to push back against fickle, controlling mobs who are dumb enough and depraved enough to believe every lie they are fed. We cannot coast and we cannot simply give away what has been won at so high a price. There are so many ideologues in this world who believe the end justifies the means no matter whose rights they have to trample on to make it happen. Your poem presents an admirable counterattack. Let us never allow liberty to “be crushed beneath the heal of history’s boot.” Thank you for this, Susan.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, once more unto the breach, dear friend once more! I know you do your very best to get the truth (rarer by the day) out there, and to fight the insidious idiocy eroding our liberty today. Words are powerful and my grandfather fought for my right to speak freely… I refuse to let him down. I believe there are many out there who aren’t aware we’re fighting a war for our freedoms now, and to stand up and to speak up is the only way forward… let’s hope our voices here at the SCP will make a difference. Thank you, as ever Brian, for your words of wisdom and your encouragement. They mean a lot.

      Reply
  4. Jack Dashiell

    If we didn’t suffer loss and death, if every good thing always lasted, we’d die spiritually of boredom and stagnancy, the virtues of love would lose their significance. Excellent poem, Susan.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jack, I hear you. I often ponder over this, hence my first stanza. I wonder whether my grandparents, who battled through and survived WWII, had so much contagious joy in their lives because of the atrocities they had witnessed. My grandmother was pregnant during the Blitz in London (in the days when only women could bear children) and my grandfather was in the Sixth Airbourne Division risking life and limb. I always hoped the next generations would learn from history… but, that doesn’t seem to be the case… especially when they have no one left to learn from… or, do they have to find out for themselves? I hope not. I certainly appreciate the value of being free to think, to speak, to travel, to dream etc…. Every day I witness the erosion of all things vital to our happiness and it saddens me terribly. Jack, thank you very much.

      Reply
  5. Julian D. Woodruff

    Unfortunately, Susan, it seems these days students & maybe also the general public are more likely to learn these lessons helter-skelter from writings like this or from adverse practical experience than from organized & dedicated instruction from textbooks & in the classroom.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Julian, you are so right, and it is so wrong. Our children have been sheltered and shielded and their minds have been manipulated and shut down… they are taught what to think and not how to think, and that is precisely why wars will never end. The sad thing is the wars are now psychological… we’re willingly gagged and bound in the name of governmental care, when care is the last thing the global government has on its tyrannical mind. Thank you for your wise words, Julian… you always make me feel far saner than I thought I was. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Joshua C. Frank

    I think we become complacent when we get this kind of freedom, and thus we give people the freedom to take it away. Hard times make good men, good men make easy times, easy times make bad men, bad men make hard times. History shows this happening repeatedly. The Golden Age of Athens only lasted two generations. The Roman Republic became an empire, which in turn fell. We like to think we’re exempt from history because we have computers and airplanes, but so many countries in the last hundred years went from democracy to dictatorship.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Josh, having read this wise thread of comments (yours included) I know this is true… but, I’m not ready to give up liberty without standing up and speaking out, whatever that may cost me. I would like to be on the right side of history, and the ‘right side’ is between me and my Maker… I know the winners offer their version, and in this age of technology, this version shifts daily. Thank you very much for your thought-provoking comment.

      Reply
      • Joshua C. Frank

        I agree that the right side is between me and God… I just see that as a separate issue. 🙂

  7. Margaret Coats

    Susan, the poem is a fine one, saying that we owe a great deal to our forebears who fought for liberty, and implying that we must think clearly and speak forcefully about it. Moreover, your comment that “governmental care,” and our expectation of it, are dangers to liberty. This immediately brings to mind the news I am seeing on British television. For days, the number one item is the Texas school shooting, followed up by condemnation of the National Rifle Association, which has saved an untold number of lives because its members, ready with their own guns, have prevented an untold number of crimes where gun violence is threatened. The British media are clearly proud that school shootings do not take place in the UK (they neglect some instances of knife violence). Today, British TV has a minor news item on how alarmingly slow British police have become in responding to serious crimes such as sexual assault, brutal beatings, and burglaries. One rape victim was told the police would interview her about the crime the following morning. If they had come by, they would have intercepted the rapist returning for a second assault. A man reported that his home had been burgled a dozen times, with the police only investigating twice. The victim had lost absolutely everything of value in his home. A couple showed a video of their grandson being beaten by two home invaders; it was hours before police answered their call for help. All this because, according to statistics, average police response time has fallen from 3 minutes to 6 minutes–and the Ministry of Justice promises to take this seriously. Of course, British media think this is a problem. But they are entirely blind to the idea that someone might defend himself or herself with something other than a telephone. They see absolutely no connection with the unprotected Texas school and the vulnerable working class neighborhoods in England.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Margaret, thank you very much for your input. Having lived in the UK for over four decades and in Texas for 11 years, I have listened to varying viewpoints on gun ownership, met many American gun owners, and arrived at a considered conclusion.

      In the UK (where citizens are not allowed to own guns) we’ve had the Dunblane Massacre and the Wolverhampton Machete attack (both at schools in the same year), the Hungerford Massacre, countless stabbings, suicide bombings, the beheading of the soldier, Lee Rigby, on a busy Woolwich Street, countless rapes and kidnappings of school children in Rotherham, brushed under the carpet by police for twenty years, vehicles driven into Londoners, a terrorist attack on London Bridge where people are told by police to “run, hide, and tell”… how safe does that make anyone feel?

      I’ve learned that if evil decides to strike it will. It will use a gun, a machete, a knife, a bomb, a vehicle, bare hands… no law will stop it. If innocent victims of crime defend themselves, they are at more risk of arrest than a terrorist in the UK. The will and the means of the people in the UK have been shut down and the protection they thought they had has also been shut down. It is the same in Texas. After watching the scene unfold and the excuses made for the Uvalde massacre (where the parents were wrestled to the ground by armed police as their children were left to be shot) is beyond comprehension.

      I will just say this, I was told upon arrival to the US that historically guns were for protection against a tyrannical government, and I now understand exactly what a tyrannical government looks like both here and in the UK. I fully appreciate the 2nd Amendment and appreciate exactly what it stands for.

      The majority of households in Switzerland are armed with guns and school shootings are very rare. Guns, knives, cars, vans, etc. aren’t the problem. Evil is. And, when the police can’t help you, to “run, hide, and tell” is unlikely to save you or your children.

      Reply
      • Mike Bryant

        Susan, I found this info that explains what is happening:

        The USA is 3rd in murders throughout the world.
        If you remove:
        1. Chicago
        2. Detroit
        3. Washington D.C.
        4. St. Louis
        5. New Orleans
        The USA is then 189th out of 193 countries in the world.
        All five cities have very strict gun laws and are run by Democrats.

        Our leaders say they have no idea why murder rates are soaring… really? Could it have anything to do with:
        1. Defunding the police
        2. Soros District Attorneys releasing murderers and rapists
        3. The hands off policy toward “peaceful protesters”
        4. The takeover of institutions and churches by the state
        5. The constant wars
        6. The ruination of our children by the woke teachers
        7. The drugs pushed by schools, doctors and the state
        8. The constant whiplash of contradictory propaganda

        The State has become the enemy of We the People.
        We are being managed, poorly, as a herd.
        We must die or become serfs of the State.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Thank you very much, Mike. As ever, you bring sanity and perspective to all the madness and mayhem in today’s troubled world.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        How awful… I hadn’t heard that parents were stopped from protecting their children. If I hadn’t already decided I would homeschool my children, I would now.

        What I want to know is, how can liberals say anything against school shootings with a straight face when they rabidly support the slaughter of thousands of unborn every day in the United States alone? (Don’t look up the numbers unless you want to be more horrified than you’ve ever been.) They gambled all their moral credibility on abortion and lost.

  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    The pervasiveness of Left-Labourite ideology in much of the U.K. population (and all of its permanent bureaucracy) accounts for the general indifference that the British government has towards criminal acts.

    Here in the U.S. the general situation is beginning to approximate that of the U.K. In our case it’s caused by the huge influence that left-liberal ideology has in our schools, universities, mass media, corporations, mainline churches, and law courts.

    In the Uvalde massacre, this poisonous thinking was illustrated by the fact that a large number of well-armed police officers were unwilling to take any action at all UNLESS THEY HAD “POLICY GUIDANCE” from their superiors. In other words, they had been deliberately programmed not to use their initiative or to think for themselves.

    Remember my essay here about “Precious Procedure and Process”? These policemen had been catechized to believe that “adherence to proper procedure” trumps everything else. Better to let the children die, rather than violate “procedure” or “policy guidelines.”

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe, thank you very much for this. I’ve been devastated by the inaction of those who could have saved lives and wondered why, O why doesn’t their collective conscience allow them to rise up and do something… now it’s obvious – “POLICY GUIDANCE”. That explains why the majority of the world is in this mess today… policy guidance trumps conscience. Policy guidance trumps truth. Policy guidance leaves us helpless and soulless.

      Reply
  9. Yael

    This is a superb poem on Liberty Susan and it brightened my day to be able to read it. I especially enjoy “Would we require a tempest’s ire unfurled
    __To understand the wonder of our world?”
    I’ll be pondering your question for a while, not only because I love the rhyme and flow of it but also because I often take too many things in this world for granted.
    I wish everyone here a joyful Memorial Day.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, thank you very much for your lovely comment, and I’m glad you like my contemplative couplet, although, having read your insightful and beautiful comments for some time, you never strike me as someone who takes anything for granted. Your attitude and outlook are an inspiration. I hope you had a joyful Memorial Day yourself.

      Reply
  10. C.B Anderson

    Do you know, Susan, what I did on Memorial Day? I planted my tomatoes. It’s a kind of tradition, believe it or not, based on the belief that by the end of May one’s plants will be safe from frost. My father, a WWII vet, always planted his around the same time. People of my generation went to public schools where true education was still practiced, and the teachers were mostly patriotic citizens who were not afraid to say so. Why is it, then, that so many of my generation still persist in their leftist views? Most of them don’t even grow their own tomatoes. And that’s another reason I think Memorial Day is a good time to plant tomatoes. I’m not like all the others.

    Reply
    • Russel Winick

      Great question, Sir. In about the same time period, all of my liberal teachers assigned books like 1984, Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, etc. Now they surely vote for the party that seeks to impose such practices on us, nodding with approval the whole time. It blows my mind.

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., I have a lovely vision of you planting your tomatoes today. Homegrown tomatoes taste so much better. I also like the little bit of wisdom you impart on the frost front. I don’t know, but I think the key to you being different (and I’m very glad you are) is your relationship with a father who not only knew about tomato growing, but also fought in WWII. He knew the price one pays for being free and the wonder of gardening… and you listened. My grandparents (who played their part in WWII) also grew tomatoes… and my outlook doesn’t match that of many of my peers. I owe much to my grandparents. They had the sort of wisdom I listened to and learned from. I carry their lessons in my heart, and I believe it makes all the difference. I do, however, have a horrible confession to make… I don’t grow tomatoes… but, having read your comment, C.B., I’m going to give it a try.

      Reply
  11. Norma Pain

    What a wonderful poem with such a clear message to all people who may be asleep to what is going on. Thank you Susan.

    Reply

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