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!

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Comments (24)

when the poet says but a plea and upwards to heaven he flings, well in other words what can flings replace as/? ? ? ? ? /
Great poem, I see Mr Dunbar, working as a elevator boy, inside this steel cage, waiting and praying, sending a song straight from his heart to God, just as David did while watched his sheep in the fields.
i love this poem, thanks for sharing.
Paul L. Dunbar is on of my favorite poet. He knows what the caged bird feels.
A lovely poem. So intense!
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