The Prisoner

If you have not a bird inside you,
      You have no reason to sing.
But if a pent bird chide you,
      A beak and a bleeding wing,
      Then you have reason to sing.

If merely you are clever
      With thoughts and rhymes and words,
Then always your poems sever
      The veins of our singing-birds,
      With blades of glinting words.

Yet if a Song, without ending,
      Inside you choke for breath,
And a beak, devouring, rending,
      Tear through your lungs for breath,
      Sing—or you bleed to death.

—Louis Golding (1895–1958), Sorrow of War, 1919