Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar couldn’t have re-surfaced in my mind at a better time. I was thinking of something along the lines: ” I know how a caged bird feels like,” when I was reminded of this beautiful poem.
I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals–
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting–
I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,–
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings–
I know why the caged bird sings!
You don’t have to be physically caged to feel like a bird in a cage. When you have to lock up your thoughts, feelings and emotions; you naturally feel like a caged being. Having to be in love with someone you can never talk to or see is equally tormenting. And not being able to say to that person how you really feel or what you think about is even more despairing. There was a time when all I had to do was pick up the phone whenever I wanted to say how I feel. But I remember how it all ended. My love was never real you said. Now I keep those ‘unreal’ feelings to myself, locked up in my heart, but there are times they implore me to be set free. And I try so hard not to let those emotions fly because they can no more fly back to the perch they once knew so well.
Almost all of us, in one way or another, know what a caged bird feels. One of the worst ways to know that feeling….is when you are not supposed to love someone you happen to deeply love. Having to restrain those feelings make you weep on the inside, cry out in pain and struggle pointlessly. Sometimes having to cage up a part of you by yourself is truly a diabolical punishment.
When I was reading this poem I also thought about how people have the need to own every beautiful thing they see. When they see a beautiful bird that sings, they want to cage it. When they see beautiful fish in the ocean, they want them swimming in their living rooms. Why can’t we just appreciate this beauty in their own natural world? Do we have to own every pearl, diamond, creature and coral? Who says we have the free ownership of those things? If we can let things be without being covetous, the world would be a much nicer place.