Why the Wild Jailbird Sang: a quadrille

Today, I am taking part in d’Verse Quadrille Monday poetry prompt #164: Winging It. The prompt is to write a quadrille of just 44 words using any form of the word wing. My quadrille is called WHY WILD THE JAILBIRD SANG.

On a walk in Islington, by the canal. I glanced up at a new building of apartments and saw, high on a balcony, a caged bird. With horror, I recognised it to be a wild goldfinch. I zoomed in to take this photo, appalled at what I saw.

The law does not permit the caging of wild birds. Should you know of such a crime, please contact the RSPB. Here is the link

The shock of this photograph is the basis for my quadrille poem.

Caged goldfinch | Photo: Lesley Scoble

Why the Wild Jailbird Sang

The small bird sits in its tiny cage 
It doesn’t understand the rage 
Or its crime 
For this sentence of doing time. 
The jailbird flaps redundant wings 
Against the bars the goldfinch sings
its wild heart out,
“Let me out, Let me out!”

L. S. November 2022

A little bit of literary history

The book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is an autobiography by the American writer and poet Maya Angelou (1928-2014). It is a must-read, astonishing book. The inspired title may come from a poem titled The Caged Bird by poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. As perhaps, does my title?—why the wild jailbird sang? Angelou credits both Shakespeare and Dunbar for their influence on her work. The title of her book (also writing a poem with the same title) comes straight from the third stanza of Dunbar’s poem (You may not believe me, but I wrote my quadrille before reading Dunbar’s third stanza).

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings.

Paul Laurence Dunbar  (1872-1906)
My thanks to WHIMSYGIZMO and the fine collection of poets at d’Verse Poets for their encouragement and inspiration to write poetry. 
Goldfinch in a tree | Photo: Lesley Scoble

I shall now bid you farewell. To leave you on a happier note with an image of a goldfinch wild and free in a tree where it belongs.


  1. Wild animals in cages is always a tragedy, and the ignorance/arrogance of those who cage them always astounds me. Never thought about it before, but wings really are redundant for a caged bird 😦 I hope your call resulted in the wild bird being released from its jail.

    Liked by 1 person

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