Sympathy Poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar


Rating: 4.3

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!

Tunji Ibrahim 26 September 2012

'Sympathy'... Intense in point of view of life. Invariably, it is out of devastating experience that the poet gains insight. Without any shadow of doubt, here is a source that gives vitality to Maya's own creative control as manifest in 'I know Why The Caged Bird Sings'. Mr Paul has cause to smile in the grave every now and then.

38 64 Reply
Mrs. Glass 05 November 2009

I feel the poet is describing the inability to acheive true freedom while living during segregation. After reading this, I am enlightened as to how the poet struggles during this time. The theme is conveyed in a metaphor that is also used by Maya Angelou. Modern day Americans, of all races, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds, can relate to feeling imprisioned as the narrator does in this poem.

49 53 Reply
Hebert Logerie Sr. 23 August 2012

Brother Paul, this is a great poem. Maya, definitely, borrowed from you. Her famous poem I know why the caged bird sings is awfully similar to Dunbar's poem Sympathy. Dunbar gave that poem the wrong title.

40 57 Reply
Tyra Falconwing 24 January 2007

One of my favorite poems, even though it's very sad. But it's still a beautiful poem.

45 48 Reply
Kimberly Kastner 06 May 2007

I like this poem too. It's a very moving and beautiful poem even though I felt sorry for the poor bird the first time I read it. 10 out of 10.

39 53 Reply
Nabakishore Dash 17 August 2022

Excellently described how the caged bird feels.

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Rachel Hughes 17 August 2022

very, good write; very poetic full of rhythm' I give the bird my sympathy.

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Hitler 14 September 2020

Love it, Good work i love you

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0 2 Reply
Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Ohio / United States
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