German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis on April 9, 1954 for his part in a plot to kill Hitler. Days later, the prison where he was held would be liberated by US troops. He was 39 years old and newly engaged. His theological and literary legacy 70 years later is profound.
I wrote a song called “Bird in a Cage” which was adapted from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Letters and Papers From Prison” (edited by Eberhard Bethge).
Listen to “Bird in a Cage” by Diane Prokop
Who am I? the cheerful squire, a sane man? The friendly, confident man in chains?
Who am I? The bearer of misfortune, day after day? A smiling, proud winner, here to stay?
Am I really what men say that I am?
Am I only what I know of myself?
A bird in a cage, a bird in a cage, a bird in a cage
Who am I? Restless, longing, sick to the bone? A creature struggling for breath, hands caressing my throat?
Who am I? Yearning for beauty, kindness and life? Trembling at a distance for my friend’s strife?
Who am I? This one calm, the other, a hypocrite? Am I one today and tomorrow another?
Who am I? A contemptible, woebegone weakling? Is there an army in me, all but refusing?
Who am I? This lonely question, it mocks me, God.
Who am I? A bird in a cage, a bird in a cage,
O, I am Thine!
Read the English translation of Bonhoeffer’s original poem, “Who Am I?” here.