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Freedom's rare air

Far from the blood and chaos of contemporary struggles against tyranny, this artifact of our own nation's birth is on display in the cool quiet of Yale's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The exhibition, called Permanent Markers: Aspects of the History of Printing, ranges from "eighth-century Japan to Gutenberg . . . lithography to xerox," and from Victorian women's suffrage to "Cold War era punk in East Berlin." (More here from YaleNews.)

The Declaration of Independence is in a section called "Broadsides." But of special interest on this US Independence Day is the section "America Made by Printing," which includes poetry by the enslaved Phyllis Wheatley and art from William Blake's 1793 work America, a Prophecy.

Let the inchained soul shut up in darkness and in sighing,
Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary years;
Rise and look out, his chains are loose, his dungeon doors are open.
And let his wife and children return from the opressors scourge;
They look behind at every step & believe it is a dream.

Filed under Declaration of Independence, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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