Analysis Of Sympathy By Paul Laurence Dunbar

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“Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar is a story that starts with the unforgettable lines, "I know what the caged bird feels, alas!" (Dunbar, 1899, pp. 1809). This poem is about feeling restrained and the desire for freedom. The poem is an expression of grief, and it’s poignancy it’s captured in the way the author uses the birds actions as a metaphor to his own feelings of confinement. Dunbar's parents had known the agony of being slaves and he recognizes that there are other kinds of cages for their children. He identifies himself in the third verse when he says “I know why the caged bird sings, ah me” (Dunbar, 1899, pp. 1809) and refers that although he is no longer a slave like his parents, his freedom does not give him joy or excitement.