The Bird in the Cage

Poem by Sakshi Gopala das

You can listen to the recording and download it on:

Mrs. Balderdash
Arjuna das
Bhogini dasi
Parividha das
Dwijamani das
Moksha Laksmi dasi
Murari Gopala das

Engineered and mastered by Dwijamani das
Directed and produced by Parividha das © 2000

Exquisitely the cage was wrought with pillars carved in jade.
And perches made of ivory, all beautiful inlaid
With semi-precious stones and pearl that glistered in the light
Reflected off the marble floor—a truly royal sight.

She saw it through the doorway as she passed by on the street.
standing in the corner of the shop that sold 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,
The kind enjoyed by kings and queens and princes through the ages.
She dreamt of Chinese Mandarins, of Rajahs and of Sheiks,
but no-one had a cage to match her newly found antique.

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 didn’t hear the plaintive call, so great was her obsession.

Feed me, Feed me! called 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 honor 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, so 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 endeavor.

Feed me, Feed me! begged 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 bums 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 stage on Friday ‘til it sparkled like a pin,
but never saw the bird who begged for food within.
And then, forgotten far too long, he tumbled from his perch,
yet managed, with his dying breath, a final, feeble chirp.

Feed me please! Implored 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 stage, there’s something very wrong.

In two’s and three’s the guests arrived and gathered in the hall,
around the polished birdcage where it stood against the wall.
Until an unknown guest arrived without an invitation.
His shaven head and flowing robes a cause 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,
for only one devoid of sense could fail to see the bird.

Shocked at her shortsightedness they asked why she’d never
thought to give the bird some food, inquiring:
Is it clever to only see the cage and not the bird who 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.

Exquisitely the cage was wrought with pillars carved in jade
and perches made of ivory, all beautiful inlaid
with semi-precious stones and pearl that glittered in the light,
until it smashed upon the floor. No more a royal sight.

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 waste the chance of human life. Misled by foolish pride.


Giridhari das (SRS) Nairobi Kenya: Thank you for the theatrical soundtracks. They have a clear quality. Very professional. We found them a great asset on our festival tour in East and Central Africa. We were confident that the wide variety of people in our audiences, Africans, Asians, students and villagers alike, were able to follow the meanings and messages.