Bird in the Cage

The poem about Atman by Sakshi Gopal

Exquisitely the cage was wrought with pillars carved in jade
And perches made of ivory, all beautifully inlaid.
With semi-precious stones and pearls that glittered in the light
Reflected off the golden floor – a truly royal sight.

She saw it though the door way as she passed by on the street,
Standing in the corner of the shop of antiques.
She went inside and said, “My man, that cage is very nice.
But tell me – where’s it come from? And I want to know the price”.

“The Queen of Sheba owned it once”, the man replied with haste.
“A very rare and fine antique for people who’ve got taste.
A bit of polish here and there will bring it up a treat.
But don’t forget the bird inside – he also needs to eat”.

She took it home that very day and placed it in the hall,
Beside the walnut writing desk that stood against the wall.
It sparkled as the evening sun shone through the open door,
For she’d washed it down and polished it until her arms were sore.

“Feed me, feed me” sang the bird. “Feed me please!” he cried.
But the lady only saw the cage and not the bird inside.

That night when she retired to bed she dreamt of royal cages –
That kind enjoyed by kings and queens and princes through the ages.
She dreamt of Chinese mandarins, of Rajas and of Sheikhs,
But no-one had a cage to match her newly found antique.

And when at last the sun arose she woke up from her sleep,
And though she wasn’t washed or dressed she ran to take a peep.
And stood there in the hallway gazing at her new possession,
But never heard the plaintive call – so great was her obsession.

“Feed me feed me,” sang the bird. “Feed me please!” he cried.
But the lady only saw the cage and not the bird inside.

She thought a party would be nice, in honour of the cage,
So going through her address book she went from page to page,
Inviting all the people whom she wanted to impress
To come for tea on Saturday, in formal evening dress.

She hardly could contain herself while sending out the cards,
For thinking curtains would be nice, she purchased several yards
Of silk brocade to make the cage more beautiful than ever,
And stayed up sewing all night long, so great was her endeavour.

“Feed me, feed me” sang the bird. “Feed me please!” he cried.
But the lady only saw the cage and not the bird inside.

On Thursday night she started making all the preparations
From currant buns to angel cakes in great anticipation
Of all the guests who said they’d come to see the new antique:
The Vicar, Mrs Balderdash and all her social clique.

She cleaned the cage on Friday until it sparkled like a pin,
But never heard the starving bird, who begged for food within.
And so, forgotten for too long, he tumbled from his perch,
Yet managed with his dying breath a final, feeble chirp.

“Feed me, feed me”, called the bird. “Feed me please!” he cried.
And then – without another word – he breathed his last and died.

On Saturday she cleaned the cage and polished it with pride –
Quite unaware the bird was dead and lying there inside,
But by the time the doorbell rang, the smell was growing strong.
She thought “Although I’ve cleaned the cage, there’s something very wrong!”

In twos and threes the guests arrived and gathered in the hall,
Around the antique bird cage where it stood against the wall,
Until an unknown guest arrived without an invitation
His shaven head and flowing robes a source of consternation.

A lady dropped her sandwiches, the vicar spilled his tea,
But then the guest began to speak with utmost gravity –
And one by one they all agreed it really was absurd,
That only one with half a brain could fail to feed the bird.

Shocked at her shortsightedness they asked why she’d never
Thought to give the bird some food, enquiring “Is it clever
To only see the cage and not the bird that lives within?
You’ve killed it with your negligence – it really is a sin.”

“The cage, my dear, is very nice, as anyone can see,
And shouldn’t be neglected by the likes of you and me,
But what a dreadful thing you’ve done, so foolish and absurd,
To think the cage is everything and never feed the bird!”

So great was her embarrassment, she tried to run and hide,
But slipped upon the Persian rug and fell upon her side
Into the antique birdcage which then toppled to the floor
And broke into a thousand pieces – some say even more.

For those who haven’t understood, we’ll leave you with a clue:
The pampered cage is flesh and bone, it’s owner really you
Who think this body all in all, who starve the soul inside,
And risk the chance of human life – misled by foolish pride.

“Feed me, feed me”, sings the bird. “Feed me please!” he cries.
“The passing cage is flesh and bone, but take a look inside!”

The Cold

You bathe in the sunlight of spring,
While I’m forever stuck in this dreary autumn.
Like a flower that will never bloom,
Forever in this dreary autumn…

This dreadful emptiness,
The cold, cold world.
You slammed the door on me,
you locked me in the cold.

Every person in Lyra’s world has a daemon…it would be very strange for people to see someone without one. It’d be just as strange as seeing someone without a head. Someone without a daemon would be considered horribly mutated — missing something essential.


I’m at the train station when it suddenly dawns on me that I left my baggage at the hotel. I can’t come back home without my things. I rush to the hotel, hoping that I’ll just grasp my bags and manage to catch the train. I explain the matter to the receptionist, she takes a bunch of keys and I follow her upstairs. She opens the door and lets me in. I pick up my things, among them such important stuff as money, documents and an identity card and pack them to the suitcase. There are also some old useless newspapers, which I throw into a dustbin.

I’m just about to leave when I notice a small box on the shelf. I reach for it and open…

I can’t even find the proper words to describe how I feel when I open the mysterious box. There is an animal in the box, a chinchilla, thirsty and in agony. I took it with me on a holiday, put it aside and forgot about it. For three days I was having fun while it was locked in the dark box, suffering, without food and water. It bites me while I try to touch it. I’m crying when I’m holding it under the tap and it is drinking.

The same nasty tiresome dream, repeating itself over and over again. The details vary, but the message is the same. I discover something I forgot about, a nearly dead animal in pain, hungry, thirsty, neglected. The remorse I feel is overwhelming. I never felt like this in all my life. I feel so bad about myself and about what I did that I would prefer it were dead so that it wouldn’t remind me about my guilt.

I hope that one day I will find my poor suffering pet, my lost Self. I hope that one day I will learn what I’ve been doing wrong all my life. I’m sure I won’t like the revelation.