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  • Poem of the Day: Sympathy
    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!

    Source: Twentieth-Century American Poetry (2004)

    Paul Laurence Dunbar

    Biography
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