Liberty Is Not a Mistress, But a Grandmother

Liberty is not a young mistress:
Convenient, alluring, fragrant skin
Glistening even in the darkest shadows
Rich with softness that makes all else–
Memory, promises, and time to come–seem cheap,
Though she is cheaply replaced herself.
No, liberty is not a mistress, but a grandmother.

With gnarled hands and spotted, creviced skin,
She is frail and demanding of care,
Irreplaceable but easy to neglect,
Slow to consider our ease and quickly offended.
She pleads with us to listen again and learn,
Endlessly rehearsing strange myths
Of sacrifices we cannot imagine,
Faintly echoing the trumpet calls of distant battles won
And softly weeping for fallen heroes unknown.

Yet the past is not her passion. The prayer
That fills her soul is not for self, but for us
That we may keep what she has preserved
That we may inherit joy and substance
Beyond tawdry pleasures and passing thrills,
That when our dim candle consumes its last drops of wax,
That we may still have flame enough to teach
Impatient grandchildren the true things of life.

– J.L., for the 4th of July, 2009 (version 2)


Author: Jeff Lindsay

3 thoughts on “Liberty Is Not a Mistress, But a Grandmother

  1. Is Jeff Lindsay among the poets? Perhaps you have written other pieces, but I have not seen them. This is wonderful, great poetry. Good imagery, Jeff. May the poet in you live on.

  2. When I wrote this, I was struck with the image of my great grandmother, Hannah Welch McLachlan, whom I only knew briefly as a child before she died. She was old, gnarled, frail, and terrifying. How I wish I had listened and lapped up the stories only she knew. What lessons I could have learned from her journey in American freedom and in the freedom that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings.

    I'm no poet, but I love to write and have tried a few poems from time to time. A few that I haven't burned yet are at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.