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‘Hail, Liberty!’ : Kipling borrowed from the Greek Independence movement to give thanks for the end of the Great War.
‘Hail, Liberty!’

‘Hymn to Liberty’, by Rudyard Kipling.

Kipling’s poem, published at the end of the Great War in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ on October 17, 1918, is a verse-paraphrase of the Greek National Anthem. The original was composed by Dionýsios Solomós in 1823, and ran to 158 verses.

WE knew thee of old,
Oh divinely restored,
By the light of thine eyes
And the light of thy Sword.*

From the graves of our slain
Shall thy valour prevail
As we greet thee again —
Hail, Liberty! Hail!

Long time didst thou dwell
Mid the peoples that mourn,
Awaiting some voice
That should bid thee return.

Ah, slow broke that day
And no man dared call,
For the shadow of tyranny
Lay over all:

And we saw thee sad-eyed,
The tears on thy cheeks
While thy raiment was dyed
In the blood of the Greeks.

Yet, behold now thy sons
With impetuous breath
Go forth to the fight
Seeking Freedom or Death.

From the graves of our slain
Shall thy valour prevail
As we greet thee again
Hail, Liberty! Hail!

* The original Greek anthem reads, more grimly, ‘by the bite of thy sword’. For additional background, see also Kipling and ‘Agamemnon’.

‘Hymn to Liberty’, by Rudyard Kipling.

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Picture: Photo supplied by Imperial War Museums, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
HMS Agamemnon was launched in 1906, and saw action in the Dardanelles campaign of 1915, defending the British forces from the Ottoman Turks. A year later, she shot down a German Zeppelin which was going to drop bombs on Thessaloniki. On 30th October 1918, the Armistice of Mudros was signed aboard the ship, signalling the end of the Ottoman Empire.
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By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
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(1799-1845)

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