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
Signs of the Times
Air a-gittin' cool an' coolah, Frost a-comin' in de night, Hicka' nuts an' wa'nuts fallin', Possum keepin' out o' sight. Tu'key struttin' in de ba'nya'd, Nary a step so proud ez his; Keep on struttin', Mistah Tu'key, Yo' do' know whut time it is. Cidah press commence a-squeakin' Eatin' apples sto'ed away, Chillun swa'min' 'roun' lak ho'nets, Huntin' aigs ermung de hay. Mistah Tu'key keep on gobblin' At de geese a-flyin' souf, Oomph! dat bird do' know whut's comin'; Ef he did he'd shet his mouf. Pumpkin gittin' good an' yallah Mek me open up my eyes; Seems lak it's a-lookin' at me Jes' a-la'in' dah sayin' "Pies." Tu'key gobbler gwine 'roun' blowin', Gwine 'roun' gibbin' sass an' slack; Keep on talkin', Mistah Tu'key, You ain't seed no almanac. Fa'mer walkin' th'oo de ba'nya'd Seein' how things is comin' on, Sees ef all de fowls is fatt'nin' — Good times comin' sho's you bo'n. Hyeahs dat tu'key gobbler braggin', Den his face break in a smile — Nebbah min', you sassy rascal, He's gwine nab you atter while. Choppin' suet in de kitchen, Stonin' raisins in de hall, Beef a-cookin' fu' de mince meat, Spices groun' — I smell 'em all. Look hyeah, Tu'key, stop dat gobblin', You ain' luned de sense ob feah, You ol' fool, yo' naik's in dangah, Do' you know Thanksgibbin's hyeah?