My Captive

I CAUGHT a little bird, and I shut him in a cage,
And I said, “Now, my pet, I love thee dearly.
Fold thy bright wings, nor let thy fancy range:
Thou'rt mine own, so sing, I pray thee, cheerly.”

But, oh, the little bird, he fluttered still his wings,
And with bright, wild eyes he never ceased to watch me,
And I only heard him say, “'T is a free heart that sings,—
Open my door, and I'll sing till you catch me.”

I brought him dainty food, and I soothed him long and well,
But the timid little heart ceased not to tremble.
I decked his cage with flowers, with leaves I wrought a spell,
By such fond device his capture to dissemble.

But still he missed above him the far and shining sky,
And still he missed about him the free wind's blowing.
He beat his little wings, for he had no space to fly,
And his bright, wild eyes like twin stars were glowing.

And I heard his little heart, as it throbbed so loud and fast,
And my love and my pity wrought together,
Till I opened wide his door, and I said, “Thy thraldom's past.
Fly away, bright wings, and seek the summer weather.”

But now I think he loves me, since I have made him free,—
For often, oftentimes, at daybreak or at gloaming,
I think I hear a song that seems to be for me,—
“Throw wide the door, to keep a heart from roaming.”
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