Birdsong - Poem by Mariam Taufeeq
They called her an orphan, a vagrant,
A thief, a witch and a soul
With no purpose; just a vacant
Mind, roaming the woods
Walking along the same path
Chirping that same melody
Mingled with the crunching of the leaves
As she walked, and skipped, and strode
Through the woods, dodging the shafts
Of opalescent light that were disks on the leaf strewn ground.
Her brown, scrawny figure stayed upright through hails
That would have blown mountains down
Yet through snow and shine, not the slightest frown
Managed to crease her face, and no lines etched;
The spring in her step was always as light, and her nimble feet
Acquainted her with the dense mazes of wood and willow,
Rock and stone, her sweet diapason sweeping the land
And the plowers heard her singing her song,
Her queer, clear birdsong.
Many complained that the birdsong was a spell, bewitchery
And her 'alakazam' would result in indubitable destruction
But their complaints-like smoke- died away....though defilement lingers
The year went by, the crowns of scarlet and gold settled,
And was brushed away by the brutish winds that hailed the arrival of winter.
And this season made the young grow old, like wee trees fallen
From the weight of their burdens in the majesty of snow
Unable to rebel the pounding of the wind that shred the remnants of courage
And the people, enervated by their endeavours of filling
Their parching bottomless pits, drowning in agony, many quitting life
Though the birdsong resonated clear, and lived on
And the people grew to abhor that innocent melody
It seemed to deride, like a jest in the catawumpus of battle
The people grew cantankerous, blaming that birdsong for their pain
They shouted and hollered, soaked with drink, caught
In the ignorance that is blind! Their flames of drunken fury evolved
And the birdsong was annulled.
O' people why do you loathe that spirit of good
In your enflamed société? You cage these poor souls!
Why do you refuse to see with appraising eyes?
And blot out the unvarnished with your hyperbole and lies?
Oh that poor young girl was chained!
And caged by the cruelty of this world!
The nescience barbarians knocked her dead!
(Or so they said)
But she sprouted wing and flew, unshackled
Escaping to tintinnabulation, and her Utopia
And she sang her song, her queer, sweet song
No longer a lament, but a song of joy
For her flames of hope caused her chains to flux
And she was at liberty to sing
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