Monday, October 28, 2013

Poem of the Week~The Force of Feathers and Chains

Clicking along the blogroll recently, I was gob-smacked by this amazing poem written by Carrie Van Horn at Hope WhispersCarrie followed it with an amazing story and her wise commentary. Carrie has been a valued member of Poets United since its very first days. I was especially impacted by what she wrote to accompany the poem. I wanted to make sure you didn't miss it, so it is our Poem of the Week this week. Enjoy every perfect word!

"God loved the birds and invented trees. 
Man loved the birds and invented cages."
~Jacques Deval

There is a force that feathers know
that ride together upon a wing in flight

and so to do links of a rusty chain
that hold down and lock up tight.

There is a might that bricks know
when holding up a sturdy wall

and so does the metal ball and crane
that can make the building fall.

Sometimes the chains that bind us
are bound by our own hands

and in turn the liberty we so long for
becomes too heavy for us to withstand.

The soul possesses all the muscles
to carry a thousand pounds of woe

yet it also holds the skill and power
to courageously let it go.

Many years ago when I was going through the separation and divorce from my first husband, I left the home I had known for eight years and took off with a packed up car and a discouraged teenager heading to the home of a dear friend I had gone to church with years before. We stayed under her comforting wing of hospitality and encouragement for about 6 months. It was a difficult time of change for both me and my son.

During that time there was a simple story her son shared one day that has always stuck with me. It holds a profound truth in its simplicity and has crossed my mind many times when I have felt stuck in a situation. 

 He had a dog that he loved very much that he kept mostly in the back yard. Whenever he would wash his car, he would bring her out in the front yard and tie her chain to a tree while he scrubbed down his ride. Eventually, the dog got so used to the routine, that she would simply sit by the tree knowing she was chained to it, and watch him work on the car. He admitted that as time went by he got complacent and would bring her out front on the chain, but instead of tying her up he would simply place her by the tree with the chain and go about his business. The dog was so used to being chained to the tree, that she did not exert any force or effort to try to break away to even realize that she was no longer bound with the chain.

I cannot tell you how many times I have thought about that story and realized how relevant it is to certain situations people face in their lives. We get so accustomed to the obstacles that we have holding us back, that we settle like roots of a tree and stagnate where we stand.
Assuming there is no way out or means to make a change. Then like bad fruit we become bitter and angry with the yoke we must bear, never taking the time to comprehend the fact that it is only us that can make a true difference. Only we can make the choice to walk away, change the circumstances, or simply lay down the burden.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ~Lewis B. Smedes


Wow, Carrie, you packed a powerful lesson into this post. Thank you so much. I especially needed this reminder right now, and I, too, now can't stop thinking about that dog, tied with an invisible chain to that one spot.


  1. What a beautiful poem...and the story about the dog is so powerful. Thank you for sharing! This is lovely.

  2. so many good lines in this carrie...the chains we bind ourselves with...the bricks...tight piece...smiles.

  3. Thank you Sherry for posting this wonderful poem.....

  4. Beautiful and inspiring. Yes even I get get over that example of chained dog....simple yet powerful words. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Carrie and Sherry,

    So nice to see your poem featured here. So well deserved after all these years.
    I found your words in The Force of Feathers and Chains, very applicable to many instances of life. I wish that I had been more forceful in my own life, as a teenager.
    PS: Great choice Sherry.

  6. Beautiful poem. It resonates with me very deeply because i am going through a tough time myself.

  7. Touching poem. Wonderfully instructive commentary. A great way to start my day.

  8. Carrie is an amazing poet, and this piece is quite astounding both on a technical level and for the subject matter so feelingly conveyed.

  9. Carrie has been one of my favorite poets FOR THE LONGEST TIMES. I have been constantly pestering her to publish her poetry.

    This poem illustrates why.

    Love you Carrie. Love you Sherry.

  10. Thank you Sherry and everyone for your encouraging words....It means more to me than I can express...and I had a bad day what a wonderful surprize Sherry! I do love you all so very experiences here have always been uplifting and inspiring.....and reading the beautiful words on all of your blogs has been amazing!
    Love you Ninot...Sherry....Kerry.....Eileen...Kim....Brian.....and everyone else you are amazing fellow writers and beautiful friends here in the blogosphere! :-)

  11. Sorry to be late in commenting here. Wonderful poem, Carrie. Great to see you featured this week.

  12. Wonderful, powerful! This shows mastery of the art.

  13. I too love this poem and am so happy you brought it here, Sherry. Thank you for poem and story, Carrie. I know this intimately, having been brought out of depression twice by remembering I have choices. I always have had choices even when I felt the most trapped. Thank you for crystallizing this oft forgotten truth.

  14. I am so happy all of these fine people lifted your spirits when you needed it, Carrie. This is such a great community! Thank you, all, for your kind words to our wonderful poet-friend.

  15. A lovely piece, which holds a sometimes hidden "truth." Sometimes we are the key to our own freedom, without knowing, as we sit by the tree....and wag our tails.

  16. I love Carrie's poetry~ She always reveals facets of truth in her gorgeous offerings!

    Congrats Carrie on being featured!

  17. Good pick, Sherry! A wonderful read, both poem and story.


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