Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
Nor Iron bars a Cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an Hermitage.
If I have freedom in my Love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above,
Enjoy such Liberty.
Free Our Souls
What does it look like when you are there inside a prison? Does it feel cold, both in and out? Does it creep under your living skin to torture you from within? Or is it like what Richard said in his poem that the prison is not made of the materials used to build prisons like stone walls and iron bars? Then what is the real prison if it is not the one that takes your freedom away from you by keeping you locked away from other people in one small dark place where you can talk and listen to only yourself. And what is this liberty inside the prison that Lovelace talked about when he compared it to that of angels? How is this possible? Is freedom not the most valuable thing a human has?
To some extent, yes, freedom is the most important thing a man has, but by all means, not the most valuable. Maybe, for some people the most fragile and delicate of things are the most valuable, but for me, the most valuable of things are those which cannot be stolen, taken or damaged; they are the things that can stand the test of time and endure the innumerable attempts to dump them into oblivion. A prison does not kill a man, nor can it steal his freedom; only forgetting a man can kill and steal everything from him. Freedom is the most valuable thing on earth, but which freedom? Is it the one that is taken behind bars, or is it the one rooted in the mind? The first can be easily confiscated and stolen, but the second is impossible to steal and even if the brain is washed, the traces are left for others to remember and savor this real freedom, which will make it immortal. We immortalize ourselves by being free in the mind, but not freeing ourselves by being immortals going about in this life thinking we are never going to die.
The real freedom we all seek lies deep in the mind as is the real prison. They are both not seen, but then they are the most tangible things on earth as we can all feel the breeze of freedom or the musty smell of the stale air in the prison cells we have created in our minds. Let us not seek freedom from the outside world for if we do not achieve it from the inside, we will never be able to appreciate it from the outside.
Finally, I would like to sing a bit to Lovelace’s tune:
Though freedom can one day
The mind that created it
By cutting down some branches
From a well-rooted tree,
They have killed from the life in it-