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
Summer in the South
The oriole sings in the greening grove As if he were half-way waiting, The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green, Timid and hesitating. The rain comes down in a torrent sweep And the nights smell warm and piney, The garden thrives, but the tender shoots Are yellow-green and tiny. Then a flash of sun on a waiting hill, Streams laugh that erst were quiet, The sky smiles down with a dazzling blue And the woods run mad with riot.