May Sarton

MAY SARTON

The Cage Bird by May Sarton

He was there is my room,
A wild bird in a cage,
But I was a guest and not for me
To open the gate and set him free
However great my gloom
And unrepenting rage.

But not to see and not to hear
Was difficult to try:
The small red bird burst into song
And sang so sweetly all day long
I knew his presence near
And his inquiring eye—

So we exchanged some words;
And then I scattered seed
And put fresh water in his pan
And cleaned the litter from the pen,
Wondering about caged birds,
What more this one might need.

But oh, when night came then
I started up in fear
At the fierce wing-beat of despair
Hurled at the bars, hurting the air,
And the heart wild within
As if a hawk were near.

The room was sealed and dark
And that war all within
Where on the small cramped stage
The bird fought with his cage
And then lay beaten down,
Almost extinguished spark.

And when I went back to bed,
Trembling, who nothing could,
As if this scene had grown so huge
It ripped apart all subterfuge,
And naked now as God,
I wept hot tears like blood.