Pacing the Cage

Pacing the Cage by Bruce Cockburn

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it’s pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you’ve lived too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Hours chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It’s as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you’ll wind up
Pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Bruce Cockburn
Pacing the Cage lyrics © Carlin America Inc

Lyrics that include “Sunset is an angel weeping” – to – “Sometimes the best map will not guide you”, remind me why I am a perpetual fan of the songbook of Bruce Cockburn. Brian Walsh of Huffpost writes,

These lines, from Bruce Cockburn’s hauntingly beautiful song “Pacing the Cage,” have been my constant companions as I have been reflecting on the year that was and the year that is to come. As the sun sets on another year of violence on the battlefields of war and urban conflict, another year of ecological despoliation coupled with economic greed, another year of political duplicity and media distraction, you can see the blood everywhere…

There is a world weariness to it all. One damn year of violence after another. When you’ve seen so much blood over the years, and you are either too confused or too numb to make any sense of it, well, “you catch yourself / pacing the cage.”

… [This] is what Walter Brueggemann calls “a prophetic imagination.” A vision that goes beyond what is seen to the naked eye. A vision that discerns the spirit of the times, the deep dynamics of history, and maybe even the movement of God.

Such prophetic vision is often found in the poetry of song and Bruce Cockburn’s art is suffused with a prophetic imagination. Cockburn’s art is prophetic in Brueggemann’s sense of the term because it nurtures, nourishes and evokes “a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture” (“The Prophetic Imagination,” p. 3).


What is your prophetic imagination?  How do you hear the One who made us for Himself?

About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
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