Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A poem of Hope

Below is a poem written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer while he was imprisoned by the Nazis. Starting from my teenage years, I've resonated with this poem in many ways. Lately, it has been on my mind more than usual.

Who Am I?

Who am I? They often tell me

I stepped from my cell’s confinement

Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,

Like a squire from his country-house.

Who am I? They often tell me

I used to speak to my warders

Freely and friendly and clearly,

As though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me

I bore the days of misfortune

Equally, smilingly, proudly,

Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?

Or am I only what I myself know of myself?

Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,

Struggling for breath, as though hands were

compressing my throat,

Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,

Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,

Tossing in expectation of great events,

Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,

Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,

Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?

Am I one person today and tomorrow another?

Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,

And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?

Or is something within me still like a beaten army,

Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.

Whoever I am, Thou knowest, 0 God, I am Thine!

March 4,1946

1 comment:

Tracy P. said...

I know we are all quite capable of wearing masks--but hearing these questions from Bonhoeffer makes me wonder, if we were able to step away from the judge inside of us, would we be more inclined to see a true strength of character that God is producing in us and reflecting to others? Could he really have faked what "they" saw? Or did it come from somewhere deeper within than what he could even see?

I like that you called it a poem of Hope.