David Almond, today's Desert Island Discs guest, read these lines from William Blake's poem The Schoolboy.
In this poem, the youngster is more interested in fleeing his classroom than in what his instructor is attempting to teach him. Lines 16–20 equate a youngster in school to a bird in a cage. That is, something that was born to be free and in nature is now locked within and conditioned to be submissive.
This poem is by Edward Lear (1712–1808) who was an English poet best known for his whimsical drawings. He has been called the father of modern linguistics because of his contributions to the study of language evolution.
Lines 1–15: The opening lines state that the teacher is old and grave. This implies that he is not young and cheerful like a bird. Rather, he is serious and important like an adult human being.
Lear uses the image of a bird in a cage again in line 15. This time, it is the boy who is in a cage who is compared to a bird. Thus, the teacher is acting as jailer rather than protector of the child.
Lines 16–20: The poem then compares the child's condition to that of a bird. Birds are free to fly about wherever they want, but humans are not allowed to do so because we are prisoners of the world outside our cages.
Birds also need food and water, just like humans.
The poem recounts two birds' conflicting experiences: one bird is free to dwell in nature, while another captive bird suffers in captivity. Because of its intense pain, the trapped bird sings, both to deal with its situation and to communicate its own wish for release. The song it sings can be heard anywhere from the first line of the poem ("Two birds within a stone wall"...) all the way through the last line ("There will be no more singing now...").
Birds in cages tend to become depressed individuals, because they are cut off from their natural surroundings and have no opportunity to use their wings. This means that they cannot escape even if they want to, which leads to many problems including stress, anxiety, and depression.
Even though birds in cages cannot fly away, they do have other ways to express themselves such as by singing. Singing is used by animals to communicate with each other, especially when they are separated from their friends and family. It is also used as a form of protest since it can be done by animals who are held in captivity. For example, birds in captivity tend to sing louder and longer than those who are free-ranging, probably because they are trying to get attention or make themselves known.
Some studies have shown that male birds in captivity tend to sing less often and for shorter periods of time than their female counterparts.
Maya Angelou portrays a bird with clipped wings in her poem "Caged Bird." It has had its feet bound and is being held in a cage to keep it from flying away. Despite its terror, the trapped bird sings of liberation. Angelou portrays the thrill of a free bird flying over the sky.
The Maya are an indigenous people who live in the lowlands of what are now Guatemala, Mexico, and parts of Central America. They built many magnificent cities during their long history, but most of them have been destroyed or abandoned. Today, only small villages remain of the former population of millions. The Maya used birds for food, clothing, and entertainment. They also used birds for battle, taking down large animals with their tiny wings and using their feathers in religious rituals.
In today's world, birds are threatened with extinction because of human activities such as hunting for sport and profit, deforestation for farmland, pollution, and invasion of native habitats by new buildings and roads. Scientists estimate that hundreds of species will be gone before the end of this century if current trends continue. However, there are still many wild birds left. This fact gives hope for the future survival of these animals.
Birds play an important role in the ecosystem because they are one of the first organisms to sense changes in their environment. When something dangerous comes into existence, like when a predator has been released into the environment, birds will move out of its way automatically.
The liberated bird, as depicted by the author in the poem, floats on the back of the wind, dips his wings in the orange sunrays, and takes the sky as his own. He imagines another wind through the trees and nice eatables like plump worms waiting on a green grass. He lives in a bright, colorful, and wonderful world. There are no butterflies or birds of prey around to worry about; this bird just wants to have fun and be free.
He sings, he dances, he flies through the clouds. No more owner, no more lease. The bird enjoys every minute of his life without any worries.
This poem is about freedom. The bird is free to go wherever it wants and do whatever it likes. No one tells it what to do or say; it can sing, dance, and fly at will. It doesn't work for anyone else, so there's no need for it to work for someone else.
Also, the poet says that the bird has escaped from its cage, but this isn't true. The bird was never locked up in the first place since it belonged to no one. It was always happy because it could do what it wanted with no restrictions.
Finally, the bird represents humanity. We were all given free will and we should use it wisely by doing good and avoiding bad. If we do good then we will go to heaven if not, then we will end up in hell.
The bird's singing represents the sense that hope provides a person when he is at his lowest. It strengthens a person and gives him the motivation to continue. The feathers themselves are symbols of hope and vitality. A bird that has lost its feathers is either sick or has lost its ability to fly. In both cases, it needs help to recover its strength.
In poetry, songs are often used to express feelings that cannot be said in words. This analogy between song and hope reflects the belief that emotions have a musical quality to them and can be expressed through sound. Also, birds reproduce quickly and are known for their vibrant colors and beautiful music. Hope does not guarantee success, but it does provide energy and courage for another attempt.
Hope is also called the "sunshine on a cloud" because when clouds appear in the sky, we usually expect rain later in the day. However, if you look closely at the picture, you can see that there is sunlight glinting off of some of the clouds. This is why scientists believe that there must be sun behind the clouds, even though we can't see it. If there were no hope, everything would eventually be covered by darkness and nothing could get back up into the sky.
Finally, hope is called the "bird of air" because when it flies away, it is gone forever. But as long as there are people alive today, they will continue to live hope-fully until they die.