Dora Sigerson Shorter

(1866-1918 / Ireland)

The Prisoner - Poem by Dora Sigerson Shorter

All day I lie beneath the great pine tree,
Whose perfumed branches wave and shadow me.
I hear the groaning of its straining heart
As in the breeze its thin leaves meet and part
Like frantic fingers loosened and entwined;
I hear it whisper to the sighing wind,
'What of the mountain peaks, where I was born?'
As sharp tears drop I feel its falling thorn.
I see in the far clouds the wild geese fly,
Homeward once more, free, in the storm-swept sky.
Back to the land they loved, all, all, have gone,
How swift the flight by joy and hope led on.
'What of the mountain land where I was born?'
I cry, they pass, glad in the dawning morn,

Home to the moon-pale lake, the heath-clad hill,
And give no thought for one imprisoned still.
All day I lie beneath the sad pine tree,
Whose groaning branches wave and shadow me,
Chained to the earth, the dark clay of the grave,
In helpless fashion feel its wild heart rave.
'Free, set free,' I hear its moaning breath,
Where liberty means naught, alas, but death.
Ah, freedom is but death.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

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