Freedom's worth

How much did the mother goldfinch value freedom?

Goldfinch greetings Card
Birds of all types have long symbolised freedom. After all, who hasn't at least once wished to simply open their wings and fly away?

It is the goldfinch, however, which has come to symbolise the value of freedom - exemplified by its loss. As blogged previously, this small songbird is weighed down with a whole host of symbolic baggage, including nothing less than Christ's salvation throughout Renaissance art. This favourable association together with the bird's bright colours and beautiful song made it a very popular caged bird - and a popular inspiration to those considering loss of freedom. 

Famous poets have used the yellow-winged, red cheeked bird to communicate the emotional need for freedom. Poems by Thomas Hardy and Osip Mandelstam notably capture a sense of resigned longing or deep outrage at imprisonment. 

In the DM Collection's Goldfinch illustration the freedom of wide open spaces and flowing rivers is depicted across the birds' hearts. However, this is enclosed by their darker embossed wings. 

But, as is often the case, Leonardo da Vinci was there first, and perhaps best. He demonstrated the importance of freedom with this short fable:

"A mother goldfinch returns to her nest to find her babies gone. Searching frantically, she finally hears their calls but is dismayed to discover them caged on a windowsill. Despite an increasingly desperate struggle, she can not open the cage and sadly goes back to her nest.

The next morning the mother returns, bringing some food for her children. They gobble it down and they sing their sweet song to one another. The mother then looks on while each and every one of her chicks falls down dead - for she has fed them poison berries.

As she flies away for the final time, the mother goldfinch says, 'Better death than loss of freedom'."

Daniel's Goldfinch design is available as greetings card or art print. 

Shop the whole DM Bird Collection.


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