Reading poetry: “I know why the caged bird sings, ah me” from “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1899)

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906)
American poet, novelist, and playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Dunbar’s influence on writers and composers continues.

Maya Angelou’s title of her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (1969), is from a line in Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy”

/”I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,

/It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings–“/

“Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1899)

“I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals–
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting–
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,–
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings–
I know why the caged bird sings!”

This poem is in the public domain.

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Sympathy_(Dunbar)

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:Paul_Laurence_Dunbar

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