Friday, June 14, 2024

"Who Am I" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Who am I? They often tell me

I step out from my cell

calm and cheerful and poised,

like a squire from his manor.


Who am I? They often tell me

I speak with my guards

freely, friendly and clear,

as though I were the one in charge.


Who am I? They also tell me

I bear days of calamity

serenely, smiling and proud,

like one accustomed to victory.


Am I really what others say of me?

Or am I only what I know of myself?

Restless, yearning, sick, like a caged bird,

struggling for life breath, as if I were being strangled,

starving for colors, for flowers, for birdsong,

thirsting for kind words, human closeness,

shaking with rage at power lust and pettiest insult,

tossed about, waiting for great things to happen,

helplessly fearing for friends so far away,

too tired and empty to pray, to think, to work,

weary and ready to take my leave of it all?


Who am I? This one or the other?

Am I this one today and tomorrow another?

Am I both at once? Before others a hypocrite

and in my own eyes a pitiful, whimpering weakling?

Or is what remains in me like a defeated army,

Fleeing in disarray from victory already won?


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

Whoever I am, thou knowest me; O God, I am thine!