Unicorn In Captivity

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Here sits the Unicorn
In captivity;
His bright invulnerability
Captive at last;
The Chase long past,
Winded and spent,
By the king’s spears rent;
Collared and tied
To a pomengranate tree–
Here sits the Unicorn
In captivity,
Yet free.Here sits the Unicorn;
His overtakelessness
Bound by a circle small
As a maid’s embrace;
Ringed by a round corral;
Pinioned in place
By a fence of scarlet rail,
Fragile as a king’s crown,
Delicately laid down
Over horn, hoofs, and tail,
As a butterfly net
Is lightly set.He could leap the corral,
If he rose
To his full height;
He could splinter the fencing light,
With three blows
Of his porcelain hoofs in flight–
If he chose.
He could shatter his prison wall,
Could escape them all–
If he rose,
If he chose.

Here sits the Unicorn;
The wounds in his side
Still bleed
From the huntsmen’s spears,
Yet he takes no heed
Of the blood-red tears
On his milk-white hide,
That spring unsealed,
Like flowers that rise
From the velvet field
In which he lies.
Dream wounds, dream ties
Do not bind him there
In a kingdon where
He is unaware
Of his wounds, of his snare.

Here sits the Unicorn;
Head in collar cased,
Like a girdle laced
Round a maiden’s waist,
Broidered and buckled wide,
Carelessly tied.
He could slip his head
From the jewelled noose
So lightly tied–
If he tried,
As a maid could loose
The belt from her side;
He could slip the bond
So lightly tied–
If he tried.

Here sits the Unicorn;
Leashed by a chain of gold
To the pomengranate tree.
So light a chain to hold
So fierce a beast;
Delicate as a cross at rest
On a maiden’s breast.
He could snap the golden chain
With one toss of his mane,
If he chose to move,
If he chose to prove
His liberty.
But he does not choose
What choice would lose.
He stays, the Unicorn,
In captivity.

In captivity,
Flank, hoofs, and mane–
Yet look again–
His horn is free,
Rising above chain, fence, and tree,
Free hymn of love; His horn
Bursts from his tranquil brow
Like a comet born;
Cleaves like a galley’s prow
Into seas untorn;
Springs like a lily, white
From the Earth below;
Spirals, a bird in flight
To a longed-for height;
Or a fountain bright,
Spurting to light
Of early morn–
O luminous horn!

Here sits the Unicorn–
In captivity?
In repose.
Forgotten now the blows
When the hunstmen rose
With their spears; dread sounds
Of the baying hounds,
With their cry for blood;
And the answering flood
In his veins for strife,
Of his rage for life,
In hoofs that plunged,
In horn that lunged.
Forgotten the strife;
Now the need to kill
Has died like fire,
And the need to love
Has replaced desire;
Forgotten now the pain
Of the wounds, the fence, the chain–
Where he sits so still,
Where he waits Thy will.

Quiet, the Unicorn,
In contemplation stilled,
With acceptance filled;
Quiet, save for his horn;
Alive in his horn;
Horizontally,
In captivity;
Perpendicularly,
Free.
As prisoners might,
Looking on a high at night,
From day-close discipline
Of walls and bars,
To night-free infinity
Of sky and stars
Find here felicity;
So is he free–
The Unicorn.
What is liberty?
Here lives the Unicorn,
In captivity,
Free.

The Unicorn in Captivity
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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