Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar

October 3, 2020

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!

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