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
When Malindy Sings
G'way an' quit dat noise, Miss Lucy— Put dat music book away; What's de use to keep on tryin'? Ef you practise twell you're gray, You cain't sta't no notes a-flyin' Lak de ones dat rants and rings F'om de kitchen to de big woods When Malindy sings. You ain't got de nachel o'gans Fu' to make de soun' come right, You ain't got de tu'ns an' twistin's Fu' to make it sweet an' light. Tell you one thing now, Miss Lucy, An' I 'm tellin' you fu' true, When hit comes to raal right singin', 'T ain't no easy thing to do. Easy 'nough fu' folks to hollah, Lookin' at de lines an' dots, When dey ain't no one kin sence it, An' de chune comes in, in spots; But fu' real malojous music, Dat jes' strikes yo' hea't and clings, Jes' you stan' an' listen wif me When Malindy sings. Ain't you nevah hyeahd Malindy? Blessed soul, tek up de cross! Look hyeah, ain't you jokin', honey? Well, you don't know whut you los'. Y' ought to hyeah dat gal a-wa'blin', Robins, la'ks, an' all dem things, Heish dey moufs an' hides dey face. When Malindy sings. Fiddlin' man jes' stop his fiddlin', Lay his fiddle on de she'f; Mockin'-bird quit tryin' to whistle, 'Cause he jes' so shamed hisse'f. Folks a-playin' on de banjo Draps dey fingahs on de strings-- Bless yo' soul--fu'gits to move 'em, When Malindy sings. She jes' spreads huh mouf and hollahs, "Come to Jesus," twell you hyeah Sinnahs' tremblin' steps and voices, Timid-lak a-drawin' neah; Den she tu'ns to "Rock of Ages," Simply to de cross she clings, An' you fin' yo' teahs a-drappin' When Malindy sings. Who dat says dat humble praises Wif de Master nevah counts? Heish yo' mouf, I hyeah dat music, Ez hit rises up an' mounts— Floatin' by de hills an' valleys, Way above dis buryin' sod, Ez hit makes its way in glory To de very gates of God! Oh, hit's sweetah dan de music Of an edicated band; An' hit's dearah dan de battle's Song o' triumph in de lan'. It seems holier dan evenin' When de solemn chu'ch bell rings, Ez I sit an' ca'mly listen While Malindy sings. Towsah, stop dat ba'kin', hyeah me! Mandy, mek dat chile keep still; Don't you hyeah de echoes callin' F'om de valley to de hill? Let me listen, I can hyeah it, Th'oo de bresh of angel's wings, Sof' an' sweet, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," Ez Malindy sings.