The Task "He Is The Freeman Whom The Truth Makes Free"

Denise Levertov

"He Is The Freeman Whom The Truth Makes Free"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Persuaded to take a walk by the beauty of a frosty winter morning, the English poet Cowper writes pictures in blank verse of the loveliness of the countryside, then digresses into a consideration of royalty, its amusements and diversions, and its likelihood to take itself so seriously as to believe the world made for its use. That idea leads the poet to a consideration that a king is only a human being, and therefore has no right to expect other humans to "bear his burdens" and "sweat in his service." With King George III in mind, about whom he had previously written in admiration, here Cowper continues in further tribute to him for lacking the qualities of a tyrant. "We love the king/ Who loves the laws, respects his bounds,/ And reigns content within them; him we serve/ Freely and with delight, who leaves us free." However, the only true liberty, the one that cannot be taken away, regardless of who tries, is "the liberty of heart, derived from heaven." The reference to mighty Samson who cast off his fetters, is obvious. The reference to knowing the truth and the truth shall make you free, is also Biblical. "Confederate" is taken in its literal meaning, "joined together."

He is the freeman whom the truth makes free,
And all are slaves beside. There's not a chain
That hellish foes, confederate for his harm,
Can wind around him, but he casts it off
With as much ease as Samson his green withes.