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Free as a Bird

August 30, 2017

LEONARDO THE LIBERATOR

In Florence, hundreds of years ago,
people caught songbirds to shut in a cage,
an act as cruel as hell.

And why did they capture those innocent birds,
stealing their freedom to fly?
They caught the birds to sell.

Then along came an artist-inventor,
with a will beyond bravado:
He bought the birds and set them free,
that champion, Leonardo!

© Celia Warren 2017

Thursday 28 September is 2017’s UK National Poetry Day. Since 1999 each of these special days has been given a theme, and this year’s theme is FREEDOM.

Feel free as … a bird. One of my favourite poets and artists, William Blake, was outraged at the sight of caged birds …

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all Heaven in a rage.
A dove-house filled with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell through all its regions.

from Auguries of Innocence – William Blake (1757-1827)

Blake wasn’t the first influential creator to dislike the sight of caged wild birds. This year I visited the home of another of my historical heroes, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). He was an artist, an inventor and – unusually for his era – he believed in animal rights to the extent that he became a vegetarian. He put his feelings into action when he bought caged songbirds from a market seller, simply to open the cage door and release them.

On holiday in France this summer, I visited da Vinci’s home, Clos Lucé, in Amboise, which inspired the new poem at the top of this blog.

‘Free as a bird’ I wrote earlier. How many other similes might describe freedom? This question inspired another new poem for this year’s National Poetry Day:

HOW FREE?

Free as the seed of a dandelion clock,
Free as a snowflake, free as a fly,
Free as a wave in a windswept sea,
Free as the endless sky.

Not like a bee in a spider’s web,
Not like a servant, nor like a slave,
Not like a football kicked in a goal
Or a starfish beached in a cave.

Free as a grain of sand on a beach,
Free as a raincloud, free as a fish,
Free as a kite with a broken string,
Free as a fervent wish.

© Celia Warren 2017

Do have a go at writing your own Freedom poem. Meanwhile, here’s another new ditty written tongue in cheek:

FREE

This poem is free:
there is nothing to pay.
The downside is
it has nothing to say.

© Celia Warren 2017

I hope you enjoyed the poems in this blog. Feel free to use them for your own amusement, or in the classroom, but please credit me as their author.

Like all the poems and pictures on this site – even that last one! – they are my copyright. If you wish to publish them, then please ask for permission. Thank you.

I leave you with a final image of freedom – a majestic gannet in flight, halfway across the English Channel, that I took from the car ferry on my way home from holiday:

If any of the poems or images on this site inspired you to write your own poem, please do send it to me. I’d love to read it!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Louisa permalink
    September 5, 2017 05,09,17

    Really like your writing

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