Freedom or Death
Freedom or death — I throw the gauntlet down!
I give myself a hostage unto Fate!
I shall find strength in fashioning her hate,
If this she hurl, to fit my scorning frown.
There’s not a jade that strumpets in the town
But does laugh at her. Shall I, then, be late —
I, who would love the noble — to debate
My scorn of her? Such doth become the clown.
I but, from out my bosom’s deeps, would bring
That half-beholden sight that quickeneth
The inner being; thus the gage I fling.
For when dear Freedom dies, by Mammon’s breath
Scorched black, no vital voice within may sing —
And, if I lose, defeat is only death.
William Blocksidge, Songs o’ the South, London: Watts, 1908, p. 41
doth = (archaic) does
gage = a glove thrown down so as to issue a challenge of combat; (archaic) a challenge; a valuable object or surety deposited as a guarantee of good faith or as a pledge of performance or as a guarantee of the fulfilment of an obligation; (archaic) a pledge
jade = a worthless woman (derived from “jade” as applied to a worn-out or worthless horse or an ill-tempered horse); a disreputable or flirtatious woman; an ill-tempered woman
quickeneth = (archaic) quicken
strumpet = a disreputable, flirtatious, promiscuous, or sexually permissive woman; a female prostitute, a harlot, a whore; a woman who dresses in a disreputable fashion
strumpets = the activity or actions characteristic of a strumpet (also, the plural of “strumpet”)