Examine the climax of "The Tame Bird Was in a Cage."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The climax to Tagore's poem is a stark contrast from the simplicity within which it opens.  The idea of two birds in love with one another is inverted by the ending.  A melancholic feeling is present despite the fact that both birds are probably in love with one another.  "Come closer to me, my love" is the refrain that both birds sing in simultaneous rapture.  Yet, it is stopped at the bars of the cage. The bird of freedom concedes that "It cannot be, I fear the closed doors of the cage."  While the bird loves the other, it cannot bring itself to sacrificing its freedom and sense of openness, overcoming its fear. It cannot leave itself to relinquish the life it has known.  The other bird responds with an equal timbre in, "Alas, my wings are powerless and dead."  The life in the cage represents a domain where the wings of flight are not needed.  The bird cannot see past the risk of leaving.

The climax is one in which love is acknowledged but little that can result since both birds cannot make the necessary sacrifices to be with the other.  It is a moment in which the reader is left to examine the birds' actions, but also reflect on their own condition. The reader is left to focus on when they have made demands in the name of love, while being unwilling to give up what it is they cherish in their own lives.  Through this climax, Tagore is able to illuminate much in way of emotional decision making and how some of the saddest moments of life happen when individuals are in love.

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