If we compare the bird’s wings to Tom Robinson’s hope, the feet to his heart, and his action of running to the action of opening his throat to sing, we can visualize the song that Tom Robinson would sing, one about him losing hope and not wanting anyone to control his life anymore, and so in this manner he is very much like the caged bird in this poem. Similarly, Tom Robinson’s physical struggles can be compared to the caged bird in the poem “Sympathy”. In the novel it’s written “Tom
[and] I know why the caged bird beats his wing / Till it’s blood red on the creek bars; / For he must fly back to his perch and cling/ when he fain would be on. The cough a swing; / And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars / and they pulse again with a keener sting” (Dunbar 1-2, 4-5, 8-13).
The poem I, Too, Sing America written by Langston Hughes shortly after World War II in 1945, is a lyrical poem about the neglected voices in America as a response to the Poem “I hear America singing.” During this time, African Americans were oppressed in society and they did not have equal rights to Caucasians. This poem expresses Langston Hughes hope for the future where black people are not oppressed when equality is achieved between races. This poem helps assert Langston Hughes’ ideas of racial pride, hope, and equality. Many black people fought in the war and after it ended, they still did not have equality, which caused questions of why they were not equal if they fought against another country.
Angelou and Dunbar show similarities when they describe feeling trapped like caged birds, but their portrayal of the birds contrast in their actions
Such personification mirrors Dunbar’s use of figurative language, which relates the poems in more ways than one. Dunbar touches on human features such as cheeks and eyes in his poem but also uses a spiritual element to advance his point of view. Furthermore, “We Wear the Mask” was written in 1896; a period in American history that was post-slavery but still had widespread discrimination. The spiritual connotation within Dunbar’s poem can allude to African American churches and/or the hymns slaves sung on plantations. Nevertheless, the struggle of African Americans is a symbol of both presented
Caged Bird both share a very common theme; segregation, slavery, and imprisonment. According to the poem Sympathy, “Till its blood is red on the cruel bar… I know why he beats his wings.” And from the poem Caged Bird, “…His bars of rage…so he opens his throat to sing.” These quotes show that both birds are treated like slaves. The bird from Sympathy was shipped until the back is full of blood and the bird from Caged Bird was held in a dungeon where it will die.
In two poems “Sympathy” written by Paul Laurence Dunbar and “Caged Bird” written by Maya Angelou talk about a poor bird that is trapped in a cage and wants to be free. It longs for everything that the free bird has but it cannot achieve it. In both of the poems, there is a use of comparisons between freedom and nature. It is also interpreted from the poems that the use of a song is a form of coping for the birds. Both of the birds sing for their freedom and sing through their pain.
One of his most famous works is “Negro,” which is a poem that highlights African American identity through the personification of African American heritage. The narrator is the personified figure that connects African Americans by explaining historical allusions that contributed to African American heritage and culture. This personified narrator enhances the theme of unified heritage among African Americans in the poem “Negro” with the use of structure, historical parallels, and historical context. One of the ways the use of personification in “Negro” enhances the theme of unified heritage is by manifesting African American history and experience structurally into one person, who is also the narrator. Hughes wrote this poem in the first person, so the poem is laden with “my,”
In Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask” the speaker wears a mask to hide his internal suffering because he does not want the rest of the world to think he is weak. This poem relates the prejudice black people face against white people. The speaker starts the poem with the lines, “We wear the mask that grins and lies,” (1). Here he describes the kind of “masks” that he wears.
You cannot appreciate the good if you do not experience the bad. However in the poem “Sympathy”, by Dunbar, you can visualize the darker side of hope seeing as he gives more insight in the hurting side of hope. Both the poems use the metaphor of a bird to visualize the overall meaning of the poem. Dunbar uses his bird as a metaphor for the lack of freedom and
The poem I chose to analyze is We Wear the Mask, written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar in 1896. Its theme is about hiding our true feelings and emotions, and lying about who we are. When looking at Dunbar’s life history, and the political context at the time, we understand that he efficiently uses this theme in order to talk about how black people have to hide how they feel about their social status and the treatment they receive from white people. He conveys the theme to the audience thanks to a clever word choice. Indeed, he talks about “grin” and “smile”, using facial expressions as a description of the mask (Dunbar, lines 1 & 4).
Biography/Context: Langston Hughes (1902-1967) is widely considered as one of the most successful African-American poets of all time. He was also a columnist, playwright, novelist, and social activist for African-American rights. Consequently, Hughes wrote all sorts of literature about 20th century African-Americans living in Harlem--a major black residential within the Manhattan borough of New York City--and soon became an extremely influential figure in the Harlem Renaissance, which was the rebirth movement of African-American culture in the arts during the 1920s. Hughes also had great admiration for music, and was inspired by a variety of genres/musicians such as boogie, Bach, jazz, and blues. His special love for blues music caused
The entire poem consists of various metaphors of racial segregation present in the society Angelou was born into. The caged bird symbolizes the oppression and suffering of people of color, whilst the free bird symbolizes the ideal society of freedom, a society lacking prejudice and discrimination. A society that, during the time in which Angelou struggled to thrive, was only available to those who were white. The caged bird 's song represents the sustaining hope of achieving this idealistic society in which all are treated with equal worth.
In the poems “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar and “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou, both portray captive birds that sing. However in “Sympathy”, the bird pleads with god for freedom, whereas in “Caged Bird” the captive bird calls for help from a free bird. In “Sympathy” the bird knows what freedom feels like since there was a time where the bird was once free, but now is trapped. In the first stanza the use of imagery revealed how freedom felt before the bird was caged.