Who am I?

posted on: 9.09.2012

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore 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 myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
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 and 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!

March 4,1946 - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

10 Smiles:

  1. Beautiful! This is a Bonhoeffer gem I hadn't read yet!

  2. this is lovely, those words and that photo--beautiful! x

  3. I'm so grateful for those who know how to perfectly articulate human emotion in words.

  4. i ADORE bonhoeffer, so so so much. reading the Cost of Discipleship right now, no words for this incredible human being.

  5. "Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?"
    what a question!
    very lovely,
    and the photo does wonders for the poem as well


  6. Wow, your blog is absolutely wonderful! I'm in love with it! Amazing pictures!

  7. I have read the Bonhoeffer book. I love this piece of work.


  8. i LOVE this poem.

    i was at a retreat 2 weekends ago and we were discussing identity and what that means and our leader started off with this poem.

  9. That is possibly the best piece of poetry I have ever set eyes on. Wow.


Your comments make me smile :)
I read every single one.