Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Poem to Share

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)


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!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The above poem was published in Lyrics of the Hearthside by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1899.
It was this poem that inspired the title to Maya Angelou's autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

Sourced HERE


Ravenblack said...

I might have come across the title but didn't know where it came from. Thanks for posting this. :)

Mary Ann Potter said...

I taught high school English for 37 years and always loved teaching poets like Dunbar. He was truly gifted. Thanks for this posting; it brought back some memories of the classroom.

Mary B. Mansfield said...

One of my favorite poems ever!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

So beautiful and filled with longing....love Maya Angelou's book too.

Other Mary said...

Thank you for reminding me of this poignant poem.

Ella said...

Wow, so vivid and I agree poignant!
What a remarkable talent~ I'm curious about his other poems.
Thank you for sharing him with us~

Kay L. Davies said...

So wonderfully sad, so wistful, so yearning, and ever so beautiful.

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

Marian said...

yes, oh thank you for posting this poem today, Kerry.

Old Raven said...

Kerry , this was a real treat. I have always enjoyed Dunbar. This is especially poignant.

Jinksy said...

Thanks for introducing me to a heartfelt poem I'd not read before. ♥