I Know

 I only knew one line from the poem below, the title of Maya Angelou’s book.  Here is the poem in its entirety:

SYMPATHY
By Paul Laurence Dunbar

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 Dunbar’s works are in the public domain and can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg HERE.

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One thought on “I Know

  1. … such a heart-rending poem… how could your heart not ache for such a creature… and how could you not recognize oneself in these words and be either thankful for your freedom or yearn to be free…

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