Dreaming of the Nightingale
By Douglas Armstrong
An Animal Rights Poem from All-Creatures.org

All creatures have rights, a fact that most people don't seem to recognize. This includes both human and non-human animals, but not all of them can speak for themselves.

Dreaming of the Nightingale
By Douglas Armstrong

National Animal Rights Day 2015, Seattle

In the dark, frightened someone,
You are dreaming of the nightingale.
If you could only sing as he does,
Maybe they would find you worthy of life.

If you could glide like the heron
Even flit with the sparrow
Maybe you would know freedom
Perhaps even love.

A home without cages, grass between your toes
Time and space to teach your children
Your customs, your language, your name.
Yet with your eyes open, you know not peace
Nor do those hundreds of thousands cramped beside you
Waiting in line behind you.

No, your song does not float on the gentle breeze,
It is silenced in the dark. In the filth. In the fear.
Your assigned value is in your flesh
Your coveted talent, that you suffer so easily.

While the nightingale steers his wings with free will,
You follow the condemned down the chute
Into the laboratory, the arena, the abattoir.

No one will ever know you,
As you never knew your mother,
Your torment safely hidden
Locked behind steel doors, in the halls of human greed.

Alone and invisible in the dark,
Merely one of millions who will be discarded today,
The extinguished remnants of another forgotten dream.

But in your sorrow, sweet someone,
Do not resent the nightingale,
That troubadour of passionate romance,
His voice piercing the dusk.

Do not think his song mere vanity
Not the flippant remarks of a gossip.
No, in his melody, the tale of how life could be
Should be
In fact, must be.

With persistent intensity, on even the blackest night
He sings a truth that demands to echo
Through every forest, meadow, and neighborhood park,
Over the busy streets of commerce and casual brutality,
In the ears of those who profit from your enslavement,
The exploitation of your sisters,
Awakening those who’ve closed their eyes to your plight
Hiding in easy convenience, or apathy, or fear,
Themselves, like you, prisoners of a system
That seeks to suffocate their animal nature.

Let the tune of the minstrel who still knows liberty
Rocket through the air, break down the walls
Of the laboratory, the arena, the abattoir.

In the dark, precious someone,
Hear the fearless song of the nightingale,
And know that with increasing volume,
Others gather to sing it for you, too,
Carrying your name into the light.

Listen closely, the heart translates the lyric:
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free.”

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