Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI. 1876–79.

Introductory to Switzerland

William Tell

By William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)

CHAINS may subdue the feeble spirit, but thee,

Tell, of the iron heart! they could not tame;

For thou wert of the mountains; they proclaim

The everlasting creed of liberty.

That creed is written on the untrampled snow,

Thundered by torrents which no power can hold,

Save that of God, when he sends forth his cold,

And breathed by winds that through the free heaven blow.

Thou, while thy prison walls were dark around

Didst meditate the lesson Nature taught,

And to thy brief captivity was brought

A vision of thy Switzerland unbound.

The bitter cup they mingled strengthened thee

For the great work to set thy country free.