I know why the caged bird sings

by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps on the back
Of the wind and floats downstream
Till the current ends and dips his wing
In the orange suns rays
And dares to claim the sky.

But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage
Can seldom see through his bars of rage
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
Of things unknown but longed for still
And his tune is heard on the distant hill for
The caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
And the trade winds soft through
The sighing trees
And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright
Lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams
His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with
A fearful trill of things unknown
But longed for still and his
Tune is heard on the distant hill
For the caged bird sings of freedom.

Advertisements

Ich lebe mein Leben in wachsenden Ringen,
die sich über die Dinge ziehn.
Ich werde den letzten vielleicht nicht vollbringen,
aber versuchen will ich ihn.

Ich kreise um Gott, um den uralten Turm,
und ich kreise jahrtausendelang;
und ich weiß noch nicht: bin ich ein Falke, ein Sturm
oder ein großer Gesang.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 20.9.1899

No one writes like Rilke, and the poetry does not really come through in English. I won’t try to render this into English poetry.  But here’s the meaning:

Rilke begins stating that he lives his life in growing rings, spreading out over  the world’s things. He does not know if he will complete this final turn, but he is determined to try. He circles for millenia around God,around that primeval tower. He does not know yet – in this circling, is he a falcon, a cyclone, or a great song?

BG

“One of the few things I know is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for later, give it all.  Give it now, something more will arise for later.  Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you.  You open your safe and find ashes.”

Annie Dillard

– an interesting idea; I suppose it needs to be combined with good judgment and she is not advocating spending your last dime on treats and being unable to pay the rent.  More the idea of not living in fear of poverty and so starving your actual life of experience. BG

To take things seriously – as my books are said to do – betokens no heaviness of spirit. Taking things seriously is no more than according things their true weight and seeing their innate value. It springs from a desire to weigh things on the scale of the heart rather than indulging in suspicion and distrust.

Rilke – Letter to Rudolph Bodlander, 13 March 1922

I yearn for my work, because it always helps me make sense of things.  For never was a horror experienced without an angel stepping in from the opposite direction to witness it with me.

Rilke – Letter to Marianne von Goldschmidt Rothschild December 5, 1914.

If we imagine our being as a room of any size, it seems that most of us know only a single corner of that room, a spot by the window, a narrow strip on which we keep walking back and forth. It gives a kind of security. But isn’t insecurity with all its dangers so much more human?

We are not prisoners of that room.

Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet

A voice said, Look me in the stars

And tell me truly, men of earth,

If all the soul-and-body scars

Were not too much to pay for birth.