Manfred Kyber - The Great Moment

In its cage sat a little bird and looked with longing eyes into the sunshine.  It was a song-bird, and it was in a civilized state - at least in such one who called itself like this.

In blue distance were blue mountains.

Behind the mountains is the south, the little bird thought.  I flew the way there only once. Then never again.

The distant mountains seemed really close.  The longing moved them so close in front of the cage's bars.

They are so very close, said the little bird.  If only the cage's bars were not there!  If the door opened only once - only one single time! Then the great moment would have come, and with a few beats of my wings, I were behind the blue mountains.

The cranes migrated.  Their lamenting call sounded through the fall air - lamenting and tempting.  It was the call of the south.

They disappeared behind the blue mountains.

The little bird bumped against the cage's bars.

The winter came, and the little bird became silent.  The snow was falling, and the blue mountains had become gray.  The way to the south lay in cold and fog.

Many winters came and many summers.  Many years went by.  The mountains became blue and again became gray.  The migratory birds came from the south and migrated to the south.  The little bird behind the mesh was waiting for the great moment.

Then, a clear sunny fall day came.  The cage's door was then open.  One had left it open by mistake.  The humans do not do it deliberately.

The great moment had come!  The little bird shook with joy and excitement.  Carefully and shy, it darted out and fluttered onto the nearest tree.  Everything around it confused it.  It was no more used to it.

In blue distance were blue mountains.

But now they appeared very far.  Much too far for the wings that had not moved for years behind the cage's bars.  But it had to be!  The great moment had come!

The little bird gathered all its courage and its strength and spread out its wings wide, wide - for the flight to the south, behind the blue mountains.

But it came no further as to the nearest branch.  Had its wings become withered during these long years, or was it something else that had become withered inside of it? It did not know.  The blue mountains were much, much too far for it.

Silently, it fluttered back into the cage.

The cranes were migrating.  Their lamenting call sounded through the fall air - lamenting and tempting.  It was the call of the south.  They disappeared behind the blue mountains.

Then, the little bird lowered its head and hid it under the wing.

The great moment was over.


From: Das Manfred Kyber Buch, Rowohlt, December 1985
Translation: Ulrich Messerle, February 2003
Published on:

Text Version: 2005-10-08 (a)