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Poem by Countee Cullen
Thoughts in a Zoo
They in their cruel traps, and we in ours, Survey each other’s rage, and pass the hours Commiserating each the other’s woe, To mitigate his own pain’s fiery glow. Man could but little proffer in exchange Save that his cages have a larger range. That lion with his lordly, untamed heart Has in some man his human counterpart, Some lofty soul in dreams and visions wrapped, But in the stifling flesh securely trapped. Gaunt eagle whose raw pinions stain the bars That prison you, so men cry for the stars! Some delve down like the mole far underground, (Their nature is to burrow, not to bound), Some, like the snake, with changeless slothful eye, Stir not, but sleep and smoulder where they lie. Who is most wretched, these caged ones, or we, Caught in a vastness beyond our sight to see?
Countee Cullen's other poems:
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