‘To the fourth of July’: The poem Swami Vivekananda wrote in celebration of America’s Independence Day
As the United States of America celebrates its Independence Day on Sunday, one can’t forget the poignant poem that Swami Vivekananda wrote 123 years ago on 4 July 1898 to mark the momentous day for the country.
Swami Vivekananda’s love for freedom and the passionate longing for a land where the “shackles are broken” reflects in the poem he wrote titled ‘To the fourth of July’, exactly four years before he passed away at the young age of 39.
When Vivekananda had gone to the US to represent India and Hinduism at the Parliament of World Religions in 1893, he was greeted with overwhelming applause. Following that, he travelled far and wide the country, and then to England till 1897, delivering several lectures on Vedanta.
He then returned to India and travelled extensively here from 1897-1899, visiting several states. That’s when he reminisced his days in the US and wrote the poem at a time when India was also under the British colonial rule.
As per historians, he glorified liberty in his poem and wanted it to be read out loud during that day’s breakfast as a part of the celebrations.
...To The Fourth 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!