Paul Dunbar Sympathy

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“Sympathy” is a poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Paul Dunbar is an American poet during the 19th and early 20th centuries. A child of former slaves, Paul Dunbar writes this poem to express his feelings toward slavery itself, but specifically the effect on his own life in the 1800’s. If one were to read “Sympathy,” for the first time it could be easy to misinterpret that this poem is actually about a caged bird. However there is a deeper meaning to this poem that has even inspired another famous poem by another famous poet, Maya Angelou. Written in 1969 “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” is an autobiography of Maya’s early accounts of African-American slavery. Paul Dunbar also expresses his testimony through his writings with his poem…show more content…
Dunbar sings tunes that can relate to the caged bird’s solemn song, which is more of a plea to the heavens, than a joyous song. “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 bird is asking God to let him leave his cage to enjoy the beauties of the outside world. Dunbar states he knows why the bird acts this way and even suggests that he does the same as the bird. “Sympathy” is a metaphor for how Paul Dunbar feels about his life and how many African Americans felt about their own lives during the period that this poem was written. African American’s had a feeling of being trapped inside a cage, wishing they could get out and enjoy the other areas of life the same way whites were allowed too. Springtime to the bird is what freedom means to Paul Laurence Dunbar. Feeling of oppression, as well as the helplessness of being a slave to another were the emotions that Dunbar wanted to express by using the caged bird as a literary device. “Sympathy” is a famous American poem, but only a small piece of the fully creative, poetic caliber of Paul Laurence
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