[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball

5.10.2004

"who am i?"

who am i? they often tell me
i would step from my cell's confinement
calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
like a squire from his country-house.

who am i? they often tell me
i would talk to my warders
freely and friendly and clearly,
as though it were mine to command.

who am i? they also tell me
i would bear the days of misfortune
equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

am i then really all that which other men tell of?
or am i only what i know of myself,
restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
struggling for breath, as thorugh hands were compressing my throat,
yearning for colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
thirsting for words of kindness, for neighbourliness,
trembling with anger at despotisms and petty humiliation,
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, 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, o god, i am thine.

dietrich bonhoeffer (june/july 1944)
executed @ flossenburg concentration camp 9 april 1945
"letters & papers from prison" (new york: collier books, 1972), 347-48.

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