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 its 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!
Paul Laurence Dunbar - 1872-1906
Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day, Few are my years, but my griefs are not few, Ever to youth should each day be a May-day, Warm wind and rose-breath and diamonded dew— Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day. Oh for the sunlight that shines on a May-day! Only the cloud hangeth over my life. Love that should bring me youth's happiest heyday Brings me but seasons of sorrow and strife; Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day. Sunshine or shadow, or gold day or gray day, Life must be lived as our destinies rule; Leisure or labor or work day or play day— Feasts for the famous and fun for the fool; Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day.