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!

-- Paul Laurence Dunbar

Tags: Paul Laurence Dunbar, freedom, poem, poetry

Views: 30

Replies to This Discussion

Like this very much. I know the last line as the title of an autobiography by a black American women (who's name escapes me just now) that was serialized on the BBC World Service some years ago.
Yes, I recognize that book title as well, but I don't recall who wrote it either. It's a nice poem.

Got it! Maya Angelou. Will now try a link:

And Still I Rise

Thanks. I know MA, of course, but I did not know she wrote that.


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