“And this is freedom!” cried the serf; “At last
I tread free soil, the free air blows on me;”
And, wild to learn the sweets of liberty,
With eager hope his bosom bounded fast.
But not for naught had the long years amassed
Habit of slavery; among the free
He still was servile, and, disheartened, he
Crept back to the old bondage of the past.
In this poem by Lucy White Jennison, the servile state is a state of mind. Bodily freedom — free soil and free air — doesn’t by itself produce a free spirit, which turns out to be not as free-and-easy as it sounds. Maybe …