'To the Fourth of July': A poem written by Swami Vivekananda 4 years before his Mahasamadhi!
Swami Vivekananda attained Mahasamadhi on July 4, 1902, fulfilling the prophecies of himself and his Guru Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Exactly four years before his Mahasamadhi, coincidently, Swamiji wrote a poem ‘To the Fourth of July’ in English on 4 July 1898! Though it was written on the anniversary of the United States' independence, it is said that the poem reflects a passionate utterance of his powerful longing for freedom.
In this poem, Swamiji praised and glorified "freedom" and "liberty". Yes, Swamiji used two different words— "freedom" and "liberty". According to author Carebanu Cooper though, Vivekananda addressed the Fourth of July in this poem, but the poem presented "a blending of the concrete and the abstract responses to a national event and to eternal concepts." 'In the last lines of the poem, he prays for "freedom" for every country, every man and woman of the earth.' Swamiji wrote this poem which talks about 'spiritual freedom' and liberty, two years before the publication of Tagore's Gitanjali in the Bengali language, in which the poet prays to the Almighty "to that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."
‘To the Fourth of July’
[It is well known that Swami Vivekananda's death (or resurrection, as some of us would prefer to call it!) took place on the 4th of July, 1902. On the 4th of July, 1898, he was travelling with some American disciples in Kashmir, and as part of a domestic agreement for the celebration of the day—the anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence — he prepared the following poem, to be read aloud at the early breakfast. The poem itself fell to the keeping of Dhirâ Mâtâ. [The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 5, Writings: Prose and Poems]
Behold, the dark clouds melt away,
That gathered thick at night, and hung
So like a gloomy pall above the earth!
Before thy magic touch, the world
Awakes. The birds in chorus sing.
The flowers raise their star-like crowns—
Dew-set, and wave thee welcome fair.
The lakes are opening wide in love
Their hundred thousand lotus-eyes
To welcome thee, with all their depth.
All hail to thee, thou Lord of Light!
A welcome new to thee, today,
O Sun! Today thou sheddest Liberty!
Bethink thee how the world did wait,
And search for thee, through time and clime.
Some gave up home and love of friends,
And went in quest of thee, self-banished,
Through dreary oceans, through primeval forests,
Each step a struggle for their life or death;
Then came the day when work bore fruit,
And worship, love, and sacrifice,
Fulfilled, accepted, and complete.
Then thou, propitious, rose to shed
The light of Freedom on mankind.
Move on, O Lord, in thy resistless path!
Till thy high noon o'erspreads the world.
Till every land reflects thy light,
Till men and women, with uplifted head,
Behold their shackles broken, and
Know, in springing joy, their life renewed!
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 5, Writings: Prose and PoemsLife And Philosophy of Swami Vivekananda by Gopal Shrinivas Banhatti
Swami Vivekananda: The Living Vedanta by Chaturvedi Badrinath