Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar

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!

Sympathy is a poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar.  Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African-American poet who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  He lived through slavery, racism and segregation.  My parents have a book of his poetry on the shelf in our library.  I already posted one of his poems on my blog back on October 7th.  It is called Good Night.  Also, I blogged about the death of Maya Angelou on May 28th.  That was five months ago.  She wrote an autobiography called I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  That book is also on our shelf.  I am going to read it next and I’ll post a summary about it when I’m finished.  She took the name of her book from the last line of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, Sympathy.

Good Night by Paul Laurence Dunbar

DSCF1632 The lark is silent in his nest,
The breeze is sighing in its flight,
Sleep, Love, and peaceful be thy rest.
Good-night, my love, good-night, good-night.

Sweet dreams’ attend thee in thy sleep,
To soothe thy rest till morning’s light,
And angels round thee vigil keep.
Good-night, my love, good-night, good-night.

Sleep well, my love, on night’s dark breast,
And ease thy soul with slumber bright;
Be joy but thine and I am blest.
Good-night, my love, good-night, good-night.