Gon ete worms and swich wretchednesse
Segala75 — Travail personnel
Take any brid, and put it in a cage,
and do all thyn intent, and thy corage
to foster it tenderly with mete and drinke,
of alle deyntees that thou canst bethinke,
and kepe it al so clenly as thou may;
although his cage of gold be never so gay,
yet hath this brid, by twenty thousand fold,
lever in a forest, that is rude and cold,
gon ete worms and swich wretchednesse.
For ever this brid wol doon his bisinesse
to escape out of his cage, if he may:
his liberty this bird desireth ay.
A poem from H J Massingham's "Poems About Birds" (1922), a find in an Oxfam shop. The notes say it is from The Manciple's Tale by Chaucer, so more than 600 years old, but still fresh as paint.