Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Caged Bird

There is no free bird, for nature creates the bars,
Of a far wider, wilder, crueller cage than we,
Would ever seek to construct for a caged bird,
A cage of high sky and hawks and hunger,
A cell of frost and famine, disease and drought,
Where every song is a lament and dawn a new death.

Beneath an old oak, stripped naked by the frost,
I found a goldfinch, a tiny exquisite spark,
Of distant summer, nestled in a hoar of frozen grass,
Its wings were folded, powerless and still,
Its beak open as if to sing, but no song sprang forth,
Only silence, as the forest slept away its death.

In Tunis I remember, in the Souk des Chechias,
Hearing a linnet singing in the shadows,
Its song seemed a qasida, a poem to my ears,
Formed as if from violins, sitars and flutes,
Whilst the constant drum of its pinioned wings,
Made me weep for the sigh of the takhallus.

The only free bird is the human imagination,
For no cage could ever contain its divinity,
Yet we live in a world where we seek captivity,
With war and wealth, and power over others,
Not ever realising we alone are the key to our cage,
And that the kingdom of heaven is found within us.

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