Pacing the Cage (Bruce Cockburn)

Sometimes the song comes along just when you need it most. I heard this song the other day and I wanted to cry, because I felt like someone understood at least a little part of what I’m  going through. Sometimes all you want to hear is that someone sometime has felt something even close to what you feel — not exactly, because nobody else has your life, but just close is fine. I love my family, I really do, but sometimes your mind or you soul get straitened or squeezed a little more than is good for a fellow. At such times a song like this can pull you through.

The imagery in this song is fantastic, and part of why it’s so good. Cockburn is a Christian and that suffuses his art (as it should.) He evokes so well the feeling of being torn between the desire to escape and the urge to stay and do one’s duty. One has the urgency of a person under water looking for air; the other is among the noblest of impulses but one wonders at what cost. All that’s in the song. Things are better for me right now, but I’ve been there and more than likely will again.

So if you find yourself feeling more than a little trapped in your life, take heart. It will get better. I promise. In the meantime, listen to this song as many times ass you need to to feel better. The pressure will ease and you will be able to breathe freely again and the sun will part the clouds. I promise.

Pacing the Cage (Bruce Cockburn)

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it’s pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It’s as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you’ll wind up
Pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage


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