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Sympathy by Laurence Dunbar and Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

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landon ricker

on 19 February 2011

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Transcript of Sympathy by Laurence Dunbar and Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

Sympathy


By Paul Laurence Dunbar "Sympathy" is a lyric poem about a caged bird. Dunbar used it to symbolize oppressed African American slaves specifically and/or any oppressed people
The speaker understands what the caged bird feels, why he beats his wing, and why the caged bird sings (First and last line of each stanza)- He identifies himself as a caged bird?
In the 1st stanza the speaker describes the caged bird missing out on the beauty of freedom (Lines 2-6)
"Blood is red on the cruel bars"- Line 9
"Pain still throbs in the old, old scars"- Line 12 (reference to slavery, an ancient form of oppression?)
"And they pulse again with a keener sting"- Line 13 (opposition, fight for freedom; the bird is put down constantly)- Things deteriorated after the Civil War back to the racial prejudice that existed before. In fact, in many cases, it was worse than before.
"But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core, But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings-" Line 19-20 (perseverance and hope for freedom) Paul Laurence Dunbar 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!
Caged Bird
By Maya Angelou Maya Angelou (1928-Present)
She is an author often attributed as the greatest African-American female poet
Her literature is often about the Civil Rights Movement and the freedom of people
Grew up in Arkansas, Missouri, and California and was influenced by the revolutionary social times throughout the entire United States
Was highly influenced by Paul Laurence Dunbar, along with many other African-American writers
She used many naturalistic metaphors in order to connect with universal themes and ideas (in this case, a bird)
Poet behind the masterpeice "The Caged Bird" Caged Bird Analysis Comparison of free bird and caged bird (this represents contrast of the African-Americans and the white class in the United States
First stanza describes bliss of the free bird, swimming in the open blue sky (imagery)
Second stanza describes the confinement of the caged bird ("So he opens his throat to sing")
"With a fearful trill"- Line 16- fear to cry for freedom; oppression the African-Americans felt
"Of things unknown but longed for still"- Line 17-18- hope for freedom that they have never truly experienced
"And his tune is heard on the distant hill"- Line 19-20- "distant hill" symbolizes that their voice was heard everywhere because of the urgency and universal aspect of their message; everyone understands the need for freedom
Stanza 4 further describes the ease and bliss of the free bird- "names the sky his own"- the ability to do anything with freedom
Stanza 3 and Stanza 6 are identical- the caged bird sings twice:
Could the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement be the times when the caged bird sang? In the year "Sympathy" was published, 1899, enmity toward blacks was widespread in America. The civil war initially granted slaves many rights including the rights to vote, own property and freedom of speech (poetry). Hey Even though the Civil War granted African-Americans freedom, hate groups against the former slaves arose, and social and economic barriers eventually stripped all African-Americans of any freedom they hoped to have. Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
Born in Dayton, Ohio
Widely recognized as the first African American poet
Son of slaves, Matilda and Joshua Dunbar.
His father joined the Union army during the Civil War to fight for freedom after escaping from slavery.
Performed his first poem at the age of nine and received a high school education, which was rare among African-Americans at the time
Author of the great poem known simply as "Sympathy" Sympathy Analysis Sympathy "Caged Bird" was written in 1983, well after the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, but Maya Angelou constantly focused on the importance of freedom and the value of life. Even today, groups continue to fight for the freedom and equal rights among different racial and social classes. Maya Angelou still highly regarded for her influence throughout the revolutionary times of the 20th century. Maya Angelou Caged Bird Both Dunbar and Angelou wrote their esteemed poems about a universal concept that all individuals hope to find at some point in their lives. Angelou acknowledged that her poem "Caged Bird" was in fact an allusion to Dunbar's masterpiece, "Sympathy", and although they were written over 85 years apart, they do share a single underlying theme: Freedom Caged Bird
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
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