Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CAPTIVITY, by AMY LEVY

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CAPTIVITY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The lion remembers the forest
Last Line: The fetters that bind ?

THE lion remembers the forest,
The lion in chains ;
To the bird that is captive a vision
Of woodland remains.

One strains with his strength at the fetter,
In impotent rage ;
One flutters in flights of a moment,
And beats at the cage.

If the lion were loosed from the fetter,
To wander again ;
He would seek the wide silence and shadow
Of his jungle in vain.

He would rage in his fury, destroying ;
Let him rage, let him roam !
Shall he traverse the pitiless mountain,
Or swim through the foam ?

If they opened the cage and the casement,
And the bird flew away ;
He would come back at evening, heartbroken,
A captive for aye.

Would come if his kindred had spared him,
Free birds from afar --
There was wrought what is stronger than iron
In fetter and bar.

I cannot remember my country,
The land whence I came ;
Whence they brought me and chained me and made me
Nor wild thing nor tame.

This only I know of my country,
This only repeat : --
It was free as the forest, and sweeter
Than woodland retreat.

When the chain shall at last be broken,
The window set wide ;
And I step in the largeness and freedom
Of sunlight outside ;

Shall I wander in vain for my country ?
Shall I seek and not find ?
Shall I cry for the bars that encage me
The fetters that bind ?

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