Thursday, April 05, 2012

Freedom the Tyrant

“So you want to be free, do you?
I’ve heard that before!

Free as a bird, free as air,
master of your fate and captain of your soul,
uncabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d,
unconquered and unconquerable,
your own master, your own lord, your own little god –
unmarred, unmarried, unshackled,
at liberty abroad, without a debt,
duty or obligation, unmastered and unslaved.

I grant it to you: there’s no word sweeter
than freedom and its cousins, free, freed, freely,
and even sweeter, stronger, deeper,
wilder is the rush to bliss
of being freed from bonds
that held you like a prison, like a fist around your throat:
the half-crazed thrill of liberty triggered by release.

But then what, friend?
After a time, you rush about in a-twitter,
intoxicated, flitting like a drunken bird on speed,
half mad, until you hit your head against a stone gate
liberty can’t open, from which you can’t escape:
the little clink called need, the penitentiary called your belly,
the deadhouse of the night and the tempest and the rain
that make a roof a requisite – bed, water, food, air,
clothes, shoes, a friendly stroke, a patient willing ear,
and all the reminders of the prison of your need:

your delicate skin, easily chilled, your demanding gut,
your perilous ignorance, clamoring flesh, vulnerability
to time and weather, injury, illness, death’s ball and chain
that holds your ankle in its teeth – now you learn the truth
that liberty is a mockery, your freedom is a door
out of a cage into a prison that contains the world.

And let’s say that you escape into endlessness:
freedom will snatch out of your hands any certain truth
for every truth stands halt to freedom, your liberty offends,
and so it must be trampled, hated, despised, condemned, slain –

truth and good are the cardinal enemies of any free man.
You’ll always need a house, and your house will be your jail;
will always need protection from your own despotic needs;
will not be free of life that makes you love your liberty
and crowns the horizon with a wall high
and thick and deep and black as the darkness behind the night’s sky.

If you live longer than Tithonous,
ancient, immortal lover of the springlike goddess Dawn,
freedom will make your life an endless age of living hell,
for you will know no truth, no good, no briefest certainty,
but eternal meaningless flux, the world in chaos, like you – free.”


Post a Comment

<< Home