‘Why does the caged bird sing her song? Its eyes are pricked; and clipped its wing’.

by richardhutton

Why does the caged bird sing her song?
Its eyes are pricked; and clipped its wing’.
Aye, what is it makes her gizzards throng?
What causes such a one to sing?
Does it call in hope? For the chance to see?
Imaginings, dreams – does it sing for these?
For sorrow or joy? Does it call out for help?
To open its cage…
But if its wings are broken, its eye-sight gone,
How could it survive in this world for long?
Perhaps then impotent rage –
Its voice only sweet by fault of design:
In cipher despairing, but to our ears fine.
As earth sown with salt:
Tender with want, yet bitter in excesses.
It is perhaps this fault
Which her voice expresses.
The sun is blindness to the eye,
And silence to the ear;
Relieved of sight such heat
The creature need no longer fear;
Her voice flutes both mellow and sweet
Because in blindness one sees clear.
The bird is blind unto the world
And thus ‘tis made content:
‘Tis ugliness which quiets the voice;
Makes hymn silent by singer’s choice.
Passion is quelled by misery;
‘Tis a blessing to no longer see.
Sometimes the summer is too long;
And the wind of autumn is a blessing
To those it touches on.
The fields are all grown over;
Thus lest the earth be o’er seeded,
Now the reaper meets his purpose,
And dexterity is needed.
It feels its own security:
Enclosed in gilded bar’;
Where no fox treads, nor hawk’s eye scours;
Cats’ paws don’t reach so far.
One frets not under lock and key –
Is it not therefore the same as we?
But why the voice?
Why such a gift receive?
When hours are tender, moments sore –
And even joy is grief?
Perhaps its heart awaits in patience
The dawn of final light?
In which the dusk is radiant,
And where clipped wings know flight?
These things spent eyes will never view,
But gentle time and patient earth,
Which whisper soft ‘You come too’.

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