I will not bow to a titled knave,
Nor crouch to a lordly priest:
A martyr's torments I'd rather brave,
Than be of my manhood fleeced.
I'll bend my knee to no fancied god,
I'll fear no ghost so wan,
Erect and free I'll stand on the sod,
And act as becomes a man.
I'll pin my faith to no bigot's sleeve;
I'll swallow no griping creed;
I'll ask my Reason what to believe,
And ever her answer heed.
I'll hide no truth in a coward heart,
The world would be blest to know;
My boldest thought as it wills impart,
Nor check the mind's onward flow.
I'll love the true, I will do the right,
Ruled only by Reason's sway,
Let all do so; and the world's dark night
Will melt into rosy day.
William F. Denton (1823-1883)