I know why the caged monkey sings


Literally: cage – bird – (jail) cell/pen – monkey

Alternately: Unfree; specifically, having had one’s freedom taken away. Living like a bird – or monkey – in a cage, unable to do what you want.

Notes: This phrase comes from the poetry of Bai Juyi (Japanese 白居易 = Haku Kyoi), a Tang-era official and, well, poet. Apparently Bai and his friend Yuan Zhen were both demoted and exiled, and perhaps placed under other restrictions, and Bai came up with this metaphor to describe how he felt about it.


“Don’t feel too bad, Bai; not everyone even gets to release their work”

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
This entry was posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s