Original Text: 
Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Word Book (New York: Doubleday, 1906), p. 45. Republished as The Devil's Dictionary (New York: Dover, 1958). PS 1097 D4 1958 Robarts Library.
Freedom, n. Exemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly half dozen of restraint's infinite multitude of methods. A political condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in virtual monopoly. Liberty. The distinction between freedom and liberty is not accurately known; naturalists have never been able to find a living specimen of either.
1Freedom, as every schoolboy knows,
3On every wind, indeed, that blows
4         I hear her yell.
5She screams whenever monarchs meet,
6      And parliaments as well,
7To bind the chains about her feet
8         And toll her knell.
9And when the sovereign people cast
10     The votes they cannot spell,
11Upon the pestilential blast
12         Her clamors swell.
13For all to whom the power's given
14     To sway or to compel,
15Among themselves apportion Heaven
16         And give her Hell.
Blary O'Gary.


2] Kosciusko: Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746-1817), Polish military engineer who served in the American revolutionary war and lived to die, an exiled expatriot, in Switzerland in 1817. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.