Sympathy By Paul Laurence Dunbar by maclaren1

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									      Sympathy
By Paul Laurence Dunbar

     Haley Greenfield
Paul Laurence Dunbar
      •Born in 1872 in Dayton, Ohio
      •The son of ex-slaves
      •First African-American to gain national
      eminence as a poet
      •Although he lived to be only 33 years old,
      Dunbar was prolific, writing short stories,
      novels, librettos, plays, songs and essays as
      well as the poetry for which he became well
      known
      •Popular with black and white readers of his
      day
      •His style encompasses two distinct voices 
      the standard English of the classical poet and
      the evocative dialect of the turn-of-the-
      century black community in America
           Important Facts:
• published in 1899, after the Civil War
• Racism in society
• Jim Crow Laws, segregation, unequal
  practices
Sympathy
I know what the caged bird feels.
Ah me, when the sun is bright on the upland slopes,
when the wind blows soft through the springing
grass
and the river floats like a sheet of glass,
when the first bird sings and the first bud ops,
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 bow aswing.
And the blood 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 its wings are bruised and its bosom
sore.
It beats its bars and would be free.
It's not a carol of joy or glee,
but a prayer that it sends from its heart's deep core,
a plea that upward to heaven it flings.
I know why the caged bird sings.
        What is the subject?
• Focus of the poem is how the African
  American identifies and relates to the
  frustrations and pain that a caged bird
  experiences
• (published in 1899, after the Civil War)
                                       • “I know what the caged bird feels.”
First Stanza
                                        Illustrates the comparison of a caged bird to
 I know what the caged bird feels.       an African American and shows how he
Ah me, when the sun is bright on         identifies with the subject
the upland slopes,
                                       • The rest of the first stanza
when the wind blows soft through
the springing grass                    • various elements of nature: the bright sun, the
and the river floats like a sheet of     shimmering river, the gentle breeze
glass,                                  Visual imagery
when the first bird sings and the       The bird's struggle for freedom
first bud ops,                          These symbols of freedom increase the bird's
and the faint perfume from its           desire to be free just as the river which flows
chalice steals.                          without restraint
I know what the caged bird feels.
                                       • “the first bird sings”
                                        Auditory imagery- adds to the caged bird's
                                         desire to be free.
                                        Birds singing announces that spring has
                                         arrived, birds are outside, free to soar
                                         wherever they choose
                                        “faint perfume”
                                       olfactory imagery- further stimulating its urge to
                                         be free
Second Stanza                          •   “I know why the caged bird beats his
                                           wing”
I know why the caged bird beats his  Further identifying himself with the subject
wing                                      He knows why the blacks in slavery
till its blood is red on the cruel bars,   struggled
for he must fly back to his perch and • “blood red on the cruel bars”
cling
                                          Visual imagery- easy to imagine the bird
when he fain would be on the bow           beating its wings until they bleed . His
aswing.                                    beating against the bars inflicts more pain
And the blood still throbs in the old,     on "old, old scars"
old scars                                 Personification
and they pulse again with a keener       • “for he must fly back to his perch and
sting.                                     cling
I know why he beats his wing.              when he fain would be on the bow
                                           aswing”
                                          The bird would rather be free than locked
                                           up in his cage
                                         • “I know why”
                                          Repetition- to express the intensity of his
                                           feelings and to add a musical touch to the
                                           poem
                                      • “caged bird”
Third Stanza
                                       Metaphor for all creatures that so intensely
I know why the caged bird sings.        fight for just a taste of freedom
Ah, me, when its wings are bruised
                                       The caged bird fights for freedom just as
and its bosom sore.
                                        hard as any person would
It beats its bars and would be free.
It's not a carol of joy or glee,
but a prayer that it sends from its     •   “It beats its bars and would be free”
heart's deep core,                         Alliteration
a plea that upward to heaven it flings.    He beats his wings against the cage which
I know why the caged bird sings.            is society holding him in by racism. The
                                            only way he would be free if society forgets
                                            the differences and establishes a
                                            community that accepts adversity

                                      • “It's not a carol of joy or glee, but a
                                        prayer that he sends from his heart's
                                        deep core”
                                       Sings not out of joy, but to express the
                                        severe trauma it is facing
       Why be Sympathetic?
• Why not instead rescue the caged bird
  from its depression and conflictions?
• Why must one watch and stand by while
  the caged bird suffers and dies slowly from
  all the weight of its troubles?
            Overall Message
• He wrote it to ask us why we have stood by
  and watched as African Americans have
  been the caged bird constantly beating its
  wings against the cage and crying out, not
  singing, for their freedom
• Tear the cages apart and bend the bars
  because everyone deserves to be free

								
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