Saturday, April 30, 2011

On Caged birds, Now and then

What the caged bird feels - Haiti Today, 
Dunbar Yyesterday

Minooche  is one of my neighbors up in the mountains. She shared good times with our visiting student teams and made herself indispensable, helping with camera equipment, school tasks and running errands up and down to La Tournelle.  Her mother could no longer feed her, so, with her reputation for industry and skills, Minooche was able to find a place with a relative, a family nearby.  She can see her mother and siblings all the time.  She lives rather like an "au pair," an older sister and not a "slave" sharing family life in a small busy home with 3 younger children and helps her uncle's various enterprises - charging cell phones, and heading up development in behalf of the mountain community.  She does laundry, carries water, cooks for and feeds the children. She gets to go to school.  You will see her in our various photo collections and films. She's just a little girl. And she sings and dances anyway.  And I applaud.

Minooche is a bird who sings. And I understand why.  And I applaud her.

Paul Lawrence Dunbar

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!

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