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A poem by 14th century Persian poet, Hafiz, snagged my attention recently. Known as “Dropping Keys”, the poem initially halted my scrolling because of the imagery. The key is my symbol for the year, a visual representation of how curiosity unlocks doors. Whenever I see my symbol, it is an energetic tap on the shoulder to pay attention to something important.
While the original wording uses the masculine pronoun throughout the poem, the version I saw used the feminine instead, which resonated deeply with me.
Below is the short poem, Dropping Keys, and the unpacking of my thoughts about it.
Dropping Keys Poem
The small woman
Builds cages for everyone
While the Sage,
Who has to duck her head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
Those powerful words make my heart beat a little faster, every time I read them. An increased heart rate is another aspect of my personal guidance system that brings my attention to something significant. I’ve sat with this poem for several weeks, reading it daily and allowing it to speak to me.
Here is the unpacking of the meaning, for me. Perhaps the poem will connect with you as well.
Living Small Lives
The small woman builds cages for everyone she knows.
The person living small, male or female, is one who attempts to control life and others. Fear and lack of trust keep her vision blindered and her breath shallow. She can’t see that beyond the fear and distrust there is a bigger perspective, a bigger life, available.
Thus the small woman attempts to control life as best she can. To make it more manageable, she builds cages for everyone she knows. Putting people into cages isolates them, undermines their abilities and reduces their impact. It’s an attempt to keep others small, for the small person wants people to be like her.
One of the most common ways to cage another is to belittle them. Have you thought about where that word comes from? Belittle…be little…means to make someone seem small and unimportant. It’s a word Thomas Jefferson coined, that originally meant to “diminish in size”.
The small woman, or man, belittles another with labeling, manipulation and imposed limitations.
“You are too much…too stupid…not attractive enough.” “I want you to remain quiet…to please me…to learn to fit in.” “You can’t do that…you aren’t capable…you don’t belong.”
Living in Cages
We might grow accustomed to living in cages, for a time. There is a false sense of security there. However, whether another cages us or we build those cages ourselves, the end result is that we stop growing. The outside world keeps going while time slows down for the imprisoned.
We aren’t meant to live small, caged lives. Eventually the spirit rebels against the constraints, the smallness, and yearns for a bigger existence. Rowdiness overcomes us.
I love that word. Rowdy is a noisy and disorderly desire to overthrow restraints. Rowdiness is the soul flexing, readying itself for growth. That restlessness we see in zoo or circus animals, as they pace back and forth in their cages? That’s what the caged soul begins to do, pace in restlessness as it seeks a way out.
Rowdiness questions, tests boundaries and pushes against the smallness. The beautiful rowdy prisoner watches for a key to drop.
Freedom to Live a Bigger Life
I know what living in a cage feels like. By choice, I remained in one for many years. Fear formed the bars of my cage as I allowed others to say how I would live and what I would do or would not do. I lost my voice and my smallness nearly made me invisible.
How grateful I am, for the rowdiness that crept in as my soul bumped against the edges of beyond. How thankful I am, for the keys that dropped to me.
Authors, speakers, films, music, ordinary people living extraordinary lives…all dropped keys to me. What I found, as I at last stepped to the door of my cage, keys in hand, is that the door was never locked. The keys opened up my soul, rather than the cage. They helped me recognize the fear guarding my door. Once I named my fear and overcame it, the cage collapsed. It could not contain me any longer.
The beauty of leaving the cage is that growth happens immediately. And that growth continues, as long as we remain aware of the callings within us. We can’t return to that cage, ever. We’ve outgrown it. We don’t fit anymore.
Becoming the Sage
While the Sage, who has to duck her head when the moon is low, keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful, rowdy prisoners.
In contrast to the small woman who cages, the sage frees those beautiful rowdy prisoners.
A sage is one who gains wisdom through reflection and experience. She’s lived enough life to figure out who she is and why she is here, and she’s busted out of that cage that kept her small.
The sage grows, sees with a bigger perspective and lives in an expansive way. She’s found her voice, found her purpose, discovered her passions and banished her fears. The sage doesn’t care what others think of her or say about her, and she never, ever allows another to cage her again.
As she journeys, the sage drops keys of freedom by fully existing as her wild, raw and beautiful self, showing the caged that life is so much bigger than that which constrains them. She uses her voice and creates art, music, poems, books, blog posts and films that stir the soul into rowdiness.
She is unapologetic about who she is and where she is going. Is she perfect? No, she is still growing and learning and following curiosity. But she is free. And that spirit of freedom is contagious. It too, is a key.
This is Your Key
If life feels small to you…if your soul is stirring and longing for something bigger to embrace…consider this post your key. The door to the cage isn’t locked…however, grasping the key gives you hope to hold on to as it propels you beyond.
I’ve realized recently that the whole concept of “going beyond”, that I’ve been given, is part of my purpose here on earth. I’m called to go beyond, and in doing so, I’m instructed to take others with me. Or rather, I’m called to set others free, so they can find their own way beyond…fears, comfort zones and limiting beliefs. Go and live a big life, as the one you are created to be.
Does this make me a sage? Maybe. It is a role that is new to me and yet one I’ve been journeying toward for a while. Journey now with me, for as long as you want. There is a big, wide existence for all of us to explore and experience.
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52 Replies to “Dropping Keys”
I took poetry in college and could never get the interpretation that my professor said. Good interpretation of this short poem. Thanks.
Thank you! This is how it spoke to me at least, after reading it many times.
This is brilliant! I love that it was important enough for you that you created a post around it, and that you were so eloquently able to put your interpretation into words that others could identify with. Beautiful work.
Thank you so much!
You are an inspiration Cindy! I love this!
I’ve never been good at decoding poetry, so I really appreciate your interpretation and thoughts! It’s a beautiful poem.
It is a very beautiful and powerful poem!
This is powerful!
Love this! Great interpretation of some truly inspiring poetry! Thank you for sharing this!
I love your interpretation of the poem and how you applied it to your life. I was never good at that in school, so I’m always amazed when others do it.
This poem speaks deeply to me! Thank you for stopping by and reading the post.
Great interpretation of this poem! It brought some clarity to me i regards to “a small person” who is creating some havoc in my life!
That’s wonderful! Small people are fearful people.
I love your interpretation of this. It is a very powerful.
Thank you so much!
FEAR is a formidable prison on so many levels. Thank you for your perspective & breakdown of this iconic poem.
Yes fear cages us for sure. I am grateful for the keys offered to me. I’ll never be caged again.
Great symbolism! I have not heard of this poem before.
It’s one of my favorites!
We get too comfortable in our lives and stop searching for new experiences. Lately I have been feeling the rowdiness creeping in and am starting to embrace it!
Is that a beauty thing? I love rowdy.
Fantastic interpretation of that poem. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this poem and making it so meaningful through your description.
Thank you! I appreciate that you stopped by and read the post.
Lovely! Such powerful and inspirational words!
That poem is powerful isn’t it?!
I love your interpretation. I’ve been making an effort to read more poetry to my children lately, and I’ll be honest, it’s been a struggle for me. Understanding poetry doesn’t come naturally to me, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse that keeps me from teaching poetry to my children. So I will keep pressing on…
That’s wonderful that you are reading poetry to your children!
I can relate so much to this! Great post!
Thank you! I love this poem very much.
This interpretation is really great!
I love this version with the feminine pronoun used.
We read this in highschool when we studied world literature. I’ve always loved it and really enjoyed your interpretation.
Thank you so much! It is a powerful poem.
Poetry can be very deep and meaningful.
I’ve been caged before and never again will I let that happen.
Me too! I am free.
Love your interpretation of of this brilliant poem especially the interchange in analogy of muscle flexing with soul flexing💙
Thank you! I love this poem.
Amazing . Thought provoking . This post is my key.. thank you so much 💕
How lovely! I’m glad you stopped by.
I love this particular interpretation of Dropping Keys– who is the translator!? I am trying to locate a book that has this version! Thank you!
I do not know! I’ve read the poem many times online. This particular version using the feminine pronoun I found on Instagram and loved it.
Very thoughtful and beautiful! Thank you forever for THE KEY.
You are most welcome! Thank you for stopping by.
That is beautiful indeed. Thank you for sharing <3
Thank you for reading and commenting!
Thank you! I am.
Lovely poem and a beautiful reflection. Thank you.
Thank you so much!
I loved your interpretation of Dropping Keys. I was looking up this poem and your blog came up in the search engine. What was amazing is that recently I’ve been really thinking about a desire, a dream really, that I have and have been giving more attention to lately: to go out on the road in an old fashion VW Bus/Van, just me and my dog travelling the country… and then I came upon your site, and on it, the pic of the VW Van on the road. Then when you mentioned that this year, 2021, is the year of the wild women, well that felt like even more of a thumbs up from the Universe. I’m going to work towards making my dream a reality; I’m going to be the wild woman with Life on her side!
Wow I love what you’ve shared! You are getting divine winks, all encouraging you to go after your dream!! I’d love to own a vintage VW bus too. I will…at the right time.
Cindy, you have done an outstanding job and I love to read and find out how others interpret any written word, and this is no different. You go girl, you have it in you to go after your dream and it reminded me of the following:
Reach for the stars
Climb every mountain higher
Reach for the stars
Follow your heart’s desire
Reach for the stars
And when that rainbow’s shining over you
That’s when your dreams will all come true