Depression - the monster on your back · Just Because

Insomnia (again)

Well it’s 4am and I can’t sleep again. I’ve not done anything all day except for watch TV, sleep and look on the internet and now I feel like I’ve wasted the day. I don’t know if this is why I can’t sleep – like I need to do something productive before I go to bed.

I’ve spent the last two hours or so reading some of my old books. I love my books – I hate throwing them out when I’ve read them because I know I’ll go back to them at some point! This is especially true with any poetry books I have. I’ve loved poetry since I was a little kid. Back then I loved how a story could be told in very few lines. As I got older I obviously looked for poems with more meaning and I love how you can revisit some poetry and it might mean something completely different to you than it did the last time you read it. 

So I’ve been reading some Maya Angelou and her poem Caged Bird means so much more to me now than it did when I last read it (I think this must’ve been when I was in my twenties so at least 5 years ago) I used to look at the caged bird as though it was someone else; someone who didn’t have the rights or the privileges I had. Now I look at myself as the caged bird: trapped by the life I was born into and still singing – still dreaming – but knowing I’ll never be free. 

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun 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 fearful trill
of the 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.

It’s funny how you relate to things differently. That’s what I love about poetry. The author has written it about something that they feel strongly about and they can tell you exactly what the poem is about; but you can take the poem and make up your own meaning.

As much as I love prose, you have to take it at face value. If an author writes that the main character “burst into the crowded room” you can’t decide that the main character “waltzed into the empty field”; it is what it is. But with poetry you can take the words and twist them to mean something so different than what was intended.  It’s freedom to mentally plagiarise; you steal someone’s work and apply it to yourself. And it’s okay because it’s like a painting or a piece of music and it’s supposed to be open to interpretation. So that’s why I love poetry. I can take someone else’s words and believe that the poem has been written for me.

The strange thing about Caged Bird is that I feel as hopeless as the trapped bird but despite the lack of hope, I still sing because not only do I know there are things in the world worthy of a song, I sing because I’m glad that I’m not the free bird who knows nothing outside of his own paradise. He will never know the pain of envy and therefore he will never feel gratitude or appreciation for the privileges he has. And this makes him an incomplete person.

At least I am a complete person. 


2 thoughts on “Insomnia (again)

  1. There is a grief associated with dreams that are unfulfilled…..with the realization that some of those hopes and dreams NEVER will be fulfilled. And yet, as the caged bird, we can still sing and MUST sing.

    Finding joy and purpose in life is a tricky thing. If we look to others or to activities or to a change in circumstance, etc etc to fulfill us, we we be disappointed……and yet looking inward can be even worse because we know all too well what is inside there!!! Eeeek! 🙂 I find that seeking purpose through Christ helps me keep the right perspective!

    Thank you for sharing your eloquent thoughts. Your writing is beautifully poetic!!
    ❤ J

    jwoolbright at gmail dot com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words Janis 🙂 I absolutely love Maya Angelou – it was such a loss when she passed a couple of years ago. You’re so right – there is a grief when dreams are unfulfilled. I think one of her quotes is “There is no greater agony than having an untold story inside of you” (or at least it’s something like that!) Like you said, we MUST sing! xxx


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